$400K Award In Wrong-Sperm Case

Human sperm, partial graphic
AP / CBS
A jury has awarded more than $400,000 to a woman who was accidentally inseminated with unprepared sperm during a visit to a fertility clinic.

The jury Monday returned a verdict of $85,000 in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages to Kelly Chambliss. Those amounts could later be altered downward.

"We're pleased with the courage of the jury," Chambliss said. "We hope this never happens to anyone else again."

Chambliss, 37, walked into the clinic in August 2002 for her 12th attempt at pregnancy. A nurse practitioner inseminated her with the contents of an unlabeled syringe. The syringe contained unprepared sperm left over from another client's procedure two days before.

Two days after the procedure, Chambliss said clinic officials told her that she had been injected with "unwashed" sperm, which had proteins that caused her uterus to contract.

A judge ruled Feb. 5 that the nurse practitioner and the clinic were negligent and guilty of medical malpractice. A jury was then seated to determine damages.

The total amount of the damages may be altered downward since the state legislature capped punitive damages at either three times the amount of compensatory damages or a maximum of $250,000.

John Martin, attorney for the clinic, the Coastal Area Health Education Center, said the total adjusted award would be $335,000. It will be up to Superior Court Judge W. Allen Cobb Jr. to reduce the award.