Labs wrongly assessed paternity, woman claims in suit

Kelly Holleran Dec. 15, 2008, 9:00am

A Madison County woman has filed suit against two laboratories individually and on behalf of her minor daughter, alleging the laboratories wrongly assessed a paternity test.

National Legal Laboratories collected DNA specimen from Sara Pate, her daughter, Carly Pate, and the putative father, Gerald W. Spiller, on Sept. 4, 1997, for an order in a paternity action, according to the complaint filed Dec. 11 in Madison County Circuit Court.

Results of the tests excluded Spiller as Carly's father on Oct. 6, 1997, the suit states.

Because of the test results, Madison County Circuit Court dismissed the paternity action against Spiller on Oct. 16, 1997, Sara Pate claims.

But additional genetic testing on Feb. 28 verified that Spiller was Carly Pate's father, Sara Pate claims.

Since the dismissal of the paternity action, Spiller has not paid any child support money to Sara Pate and has provided no assistance to Sara Pate in the upbringing of Carly Pate, according to the complaint.

In addition, Sara Pate was humiliated and embarrassed because of her perceived inability to identify Carly Pate's father, the suit states.

Sara Pate has been deprived of financial support, assistance in the upbringing of her daughter and has suffered emotional distress, she claims.

Carly Pate has lost the society of her father, has been deprived of the love, affection, care, attention, companionship and comfort of her father and has been deprived of the guidance and protection of her father and has suffered emotional distress, according to the complaint.

National Labs breached its duty to follow normal and customary scientific procedures commonly exercised by laboratories by failing to instruct its employees of the danger of specimen contamination, failing to use specimen containers with sealable and tamper-evident lids and failing to seal the specimen containers, Sara Pate claims.

The laboratory also negligently failed to obtain Spiller's initials or to identify the specimen as belonging to Spiller, conducted the DNA test so that results were not accurate, erroneously tested and reported that Spiller was not Carly Pate's father, failed to use routinely followed precautionary procedures and failed to follow standards established by American Association of Blood Banks to assure accuracy, according to the complaint.

After the dismissal of the paternity action, Orchid Cellmark acquired National Legal Laboratories and also mentioned as a defendant in the suit, the complaint states.

In the four-count suit, Sara Pate is seeking a judgment in excess of $200,000, plus costs.

She is represented by J. Robert Edmonds of Mormino, Velloff, Edmonds and Snider in Alton.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 08-L-1166.

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