Seven families across Canada are suing an Ontario sperm bank, saying it misled them about their sperm donor’s history, which includes a degenerative genetic condition and a false academic background. The families, from Ontario, Quebec, B.C., Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador allege that Outreach Health Services presented a donor, referred to as Donor 3116, who was a cytogeneticist with an advanced degree, and an impressive health history with no genetic abnormalities. The families said the clinic in Newmarket, a town north of Toronto, told them donors go through extensive screening and genetic testing. However, the claimants allege Donor 3116 is actually a lab tech, without any advanced degrees, who has a genetic disorder that is evident in photographs and which could have been confirmed by testing. The families say they would not have chosen the donor had they known the truth about his background and health. CBC News has asked Outreach for comment and has yet to receive a response. The allegations have yet to be proven in court. We’re blessed to have him in our lives, I just wish that he wasn’t afflicted with this disease.- Louise Frame, mother of child from Donor 3116 “The donor was held out to be a healthy, well-educated individual who had gone through extensive screening and testing and was healthy by all accounts. And so these families have each conceived a child from this donor and subsequently found out that the donor suffers from Charcot Marie Tooth disease,” said James Fireman, partner at the law firm Samfiru Tumarkin LLP. The Canadian firm is representing the families alongside San Francisco-based Hersh & Hersh. Charcot Marie Tooth disease (CMT1) is a group of degenerative nerve disorders which primarily affect the arms and legs. As the disease progresses, it can become so severe that some lose the ability to walk. It often is diagnosed in adolescents but can show up as late as mid-adulthood. The seven families all conceived a child from Donor 3116. Five of their children have now tested positive for CMT1. “For the parents that have children that have this disease or that might have this disease, they are constantly waiting to see if it’s going to show up … any time something happens, they’re thinking, is this the first symptom? Is this the first time? And it is something that, you know, really gets underneath every interaction that they have with their children,” Fireman said. ‘Absolutely devastated’ Louise Frame and Kristy Kokoski, one of the families taking legal action, say it was heartbreaking to learn their two-year-old son has CMT1. “We were absolutely devastated, we just both broke down crying,” Frame said. “We’re blessed to have him in our lives, I just wish that he wasn’t afflicted with this disease.” Frame said both herself and Kokoski were inseminated with the donor’s sperm, and Frame got pregnant twice — but lost both pregnancies. “My fertility director suggested that sometimes miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities … so I’m not sure if that was the reason, but it’s definitely a possibility, so it was very distressing to learn about that afterward,” Frame said. Kokoski said after learning about the donor’s condition, she was depressed and began to fixate on her son’s health — noticing every time he trips while playing, and wondering if it’s normal childhood clumsiness or a symptom of CMT1. “He walked late and I guess I just worried he wasn’t going to walk?” she said. The families also allege that after Outreach was alerted to the donor’s genetic condition and false background, it continued to sell and promote his sperm. Each family is seeking roughly $4 million in damages, for a total of more than $30 million. Frame said it’s possible more families than the seven involved in the lawsuits were affected. “The way fertility is regulated in Canada makes this incredibly concerning for Canadians,” said Fireman. “There is a very limited supply of sperm donors that Canadians have access to … so when one of, if not the biggest, supplier of semen in Canada has these issues, it’s very, very concerning.” Failed health inspection In Canada, it’s illegal to compensate sperm donors, making many banks reliant on importing sperm from countries where donors are paid for assisted reproduction. A separate set of lawsuits filed against Outreach in 2016 alleged a different donor’s criminal history and schizophrenia were not disclosed. One of those lawsuits, against Outreach’s U.S. parent company, will be heard by Georgia’s Supreme Court. Outreach has also previously failed annual safety inspections with Health Canada, most recently in 2016, for not correctly processing semen that was imported or not keeping records for each container of semen. Simon Phillips, a clinical embryologist and vice president of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society, said the assisted reproductive process can be a complex and expensive one — not to mention the emotional impact it can have on families. “Most donor sperm that is used in Canada comes from importers from U.S. banks, although there are a few very small Canadian sperm banks. This is because of Canadian law concerning payment to donors: both egg and sperm,” Phillips said. Sperm usually costs between $800 and $1,200, he said, and a new sample is required each month if used for intrauterine insemination. Families also have to meet with a psychologist prior to starting treatment to discuss how the process might impact them.
Court battles over counting ballots shape presidential election
With both sides in the US presidential election duelling in court over rules and procedures ahead of the November 3 vote, Democrats scored a victory on Monday when the Supreme Court left in place a ruling that extended a deadline for counting mail-in ballots in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. But Trump’s re-election campaign and…
With both sides in the US presidential election duelling in court over rules and procedures ahead of the November 3 vote, Democrats scored a victory on Monday when the Supreme Court left in place a ruling that extended a deadline for counting mail-in ballots in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.
But Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee have also notched up important wins, including a recent ruling in Texas limiting voters’ ability to correct rejectedmail-in ballots.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted hundreds of lawsuits in the US over how people can cast their ballots. Americans, fearing the novel coronavirus, are expected to vote by mail in record numbers.
Trump’s Republican allies who control the US Senate are rushing to confirm conservative jurist Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before the election. Seating Barrett on the court would create a conservative majority that is likely to rule against Democrats in voting cases.
Below are some of the biggest victories so far for Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
BIDEN LEGAL WINS
Pennsylvania lawsuit over mail-in deadlines
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on September 17 that officials in the closely contested state can accept mail-in ballots three days after the November 3 election so long as they were postmarked by 8pm ET on Election Day.
The Supreme Court, in a 4-4 decision, said it would leave that decision in place, turning away an appeal by the state Republican Party and Republican officials.
Republicans did prevail on one key issue at Pennsylvania’s highest court. Interpreting a state law, the court said officials must throw out so-called “naked ballots” – ballots that arrive withoutinner “secrecy envelopes”.
Republicans argued the secrecy sleeves help deter fraud. Democrats have warned the ruling could lead to an estimated 100,000 votes being thrown out.
Pennsylvania judge rejects voter fraud claims
Drop boxes have become a partisan flashpoint, with Democrats promoting them as a safe option for voters unnerved by the COVID-19 pandemic and US Postal Service delivery problems.
Republican officials and Trump’s campaign have argued without evidence that the boxes could enable voting fraud. On October 10, US District Judge Nicholas Ranjan inPittsburgh, a Trump appointee, rejected a bid by the Trump campaign and Republican Party to limit the use of drop boxes in Pennsylvania.
Ranjan wrote that the plaintiffs failed to prove a risk of voter fraud. “At most, they have pieced together a sequence of uncertain assumptions.”
An election worker collects mail-in ballots and guides voters at the entrance to the Registrar of Voters building in San Diego, California, on October 19, 2020 [Mike Blake/Reuters]Texas ballot drop-off sites
Democrats scored a win in Texas on October 15 when a judge lifted an order by Republican Governor Greg Abbott limiting counties to a single location for mail ballot drop-off sites.That order is on hold while it is being appealed.
State court judge Tim Sulak, who sits in Austin, said Abbott’s order would “increase risks of exposure to COVID-19 infections” and “substantially burden voters’ constitutionallyprotected rights to vote”. Sulak’s ruling is being reviewed by an appeals court.
TRUMP LEGAL WINS
Texas signature requirement
A federal appeals court on Monday said Texas does not have to give voters a chance to correct mail-in ballots that are rejected because the signature does not match the one on filewith the state.
The Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals halted a lower court order that gave voters an opportunity to correct, or “cure,” the defect.
The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by a voting rights group against Republican Party officials in Texas, a longtime Republican stronghold that may be up for grabs this year.
Texas mail-in ballot battle
On October 8 the Texas Supreme Court ruled that officials in the state’s most populous county, a Democratic stronghold that includes Houston, cannot send out unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots to its 2.4 million registered voters.
Unlike other states, Texas limits mail-in voting to those who are 65 and older, cite a disability or illness, are in jail but otherwise eligible or are outside the county where they areregistered.
The decision was a win for Republican party officials, who said sending mail-in ballot applications to everyone in Harris County, the third most populous county in the United States, would cause confusion and lead to voter fraud.
An election worker looks over some of the hundreds of thousands of early mail-in ballots as they are processed at the Orange County Registrar of Voters in California on October 16, 2020 [Mike Blake/Reuters]Florida restricts ex-felon’s right to vote
A federal appeals court ruled in September that Florida can require felons to pay fines, restitution and legal fees they owe before they regain their right to vote.
By a 6-4 vote, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling that the measure amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax. Five of the six judges in the majority were appointed by Trump.
Ex-felons in Florida are more likely to register as Democrats, according to an analysis published this month by the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald and ProPublica.
Nearly 900,000 Floridians with felony convictions will be unable to vote in the election because of the decision, according to an October 14 study by the Sentencing Project, acriminal justice reform group.
Fight over absentee ballots in Wisconsin
Wisconsin election officials cannot count absentee ballots that arrive after the November 3 election, a federal appeals court ruled on October 8.
Democrats had argued that ballots postmarked by election day that arrive up to six days later should be tallied, saying such a policy would protect the right to vote amid a surge in mail-inballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that it was too close to election day to make significant modifications to the voting process.
In a scathing dissent, one judge denounced the decision as a “travesty” and said thousands of people would lose their right to vote.
An appeal to the Supreme Court is pending.
A young voter fills out a ballot with assistance from a poll worker at a polling station in Milwaukee on the first day of in-person voting in Wisconsin on October 20, 2020 [Bing Guan/Reuters]Michigan counting deadline
A Michigan appeals court ruled on October 16 that ballots received after 8pm ET on November 3 cannot be counted, reversing a ruling by a state court judge in Detroit and changing the battleground state’s voting rules just two weeks before the election.
The judge in Detroit had said Michigan voters should have their ballots counted for up to 14 days following November 3 so long as they were postmarked by November 2.
More than 100 dead as Vietnam reels from ‘worst floods in decades’
The death toll from weeks of flooding and landslides in central Vietnam has risen to 111, with 22 people still missing, Reuters reported Wednesday. “These devastating floods are some of the worst we have seen in decades,” Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu, the president of Vietnam’s Red Cross Society, said in a statement Tuesday.More than 7,200…
The death toll from weeks of flooding and landslides in central Vietnam has risen to 111, with 22 people still missing, Reuters reported Wednesday. “These devastating floods are some of the worst we have seen in decades,” Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu, the president of Vietnam’s Red Cross Society, said in a statement Tuesday.More than 7,200 hectares of food crops have been submerged and damaged, and more than 691,000 cattle and poultry have been killed or swept away in flood water, according to the state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA). Sixteen national highways and 161,880 meters of local roads in four provinces have also been damaged.The country is now bracing for another onslaught from tropical storm Saudel which is heading toward Vietnam after lashing the Philippines, where it caused flooding and forced thousands of residents to evacuate.October is rainy season in Vietnam, but for weeks the country has been hit by particularly poor weather which has impacted agriculture, irrigation, and transport. At the start of the month, storms and a cold snap prompted rain and floods in central cities and provinces in Vietnam, according to VNA. More than 250,000 households in six provinces have been “inundated,” since mid-October, and many areas are 2 or 3 meters underwater, VNA reported. Earlier in the week, rescuers found 14 bodies of 22 soldiers that were missing after a landslide engulfed a military camp, according to VNA.The region as a whole has suffered particularly heavy rainfall amid the onset of a La Nina weather system, which is characterized by unusually cold temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.Larger humanitarian crisisVietnam’s flooding has left hundreds of thousands in urgent need of emergency shelter, safe drinking water, food, and income support, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).Red Cross disaster teams are working alongside local authorities to provide relief assistance. “Everywhere we look, homes, roads and infrastructure have been submerged,” Thu said. “We’re doing our best to get immediate relief to people by boat, by air and on land, including food, safe water, tarpaulins and other essentials.”The Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee is giving 20 billion Vietnamese dong ($860,000) to support flood-hit families in five central provinces, VNA reported. The IFRC has released around $325,000 to support the Vietnam Red Cross relief activities.According to Thu, the flooding is dealing a “staggering blow to the livelihoods of millions of people already reeling from hardships caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”Vietnam largely escaped the kind of onslaught seen in other countries, with authorities reporting 1,141 coronavirus cases and 35 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. However, the tourism-dependent economy has taken a hit — the country, which sealed its borders in March due to the pandemic, is normally visited by millions of international tourists a year. A double disaster was unfolding as the floods “compound the difficulties caused by Covid-19,” Christopher Rassi, IRFC’s Director of the Office of the Secretary General, said in a statement Tuesday.”These floods are the last straw and will push millions of people further towards the brink of poverty,” he said.CNN’s Isaac Yee and Sandi Sidhu contributed reporting in Hong Kong. Reuters also contributed reporting.
Sotheby’s to Offer $90 M. Giacometti Sculpture in Hybrid ‘Sealed Bid’ Sale
In advance of its New York modern and contemporary art evening sales next week on October 28, Sotheby’s has secured a valuable Alberto Giacometti sculpture for a private sale titled “In Confidence: A Masterpiece by Alberto Giacometti.” Grande femme I (cast in 1960) will be sold via confidential bidding starting on October 20. The work…
In advance of its New York modern and contemporary art evening sales next week on October 28, Sotheby’s has secured a valuable Alberto Giacometti sculpture for a private sale titled “In Confidence: A Masterpiece by Alberto Giacometti.” Grande femme I (cast in 1960) will be sold via confidential bidding starting on October 20. The work is valued at $90 million.
Standing at nine feet tall, Grande femme I is from a series of five monumental female figures, each made by the Swiss artist for an outdoor installation project at Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York conceived in 1958. The cast was completed in 1960. The work carries an impressive provenance, having been formerly owned by Chicago collector Robert Mayer, whose American contemporary art holdings sold at Christie’s in 2019. It changed hands again before going to New York art dealer and former Major League Baseball team owner Jeffrey Loria. The current seller, Revlon Inc. owner Ron Perelman, acquired it in 1993, and the work was last on the market in 1989, when Mayer sold it at Christie’s New York.
The sale of Giacometti’s L’homme au doigt (Pointing man), 1947, at Christie’s New York set the artist’s record in May 2015, when it sold for a staggering $141.3 million, making it the most expensive work ever to sell at auction. It was sold by real estate magnate Sheldon Solow. Before that sale, the biggest sum ever paid for a Giacometti at auction was the $104.3 million put down for L’Homme qui marche I (Walking man), a companion work to the present sculpture, during at Sotheby’s London in February 2010. The sale of his Chariot sculpture generated the third-highest price for the artist when it sold for $100 million at Sotheby’s New York in November 2014. In October 2017, the artist’s Grande Femme II (c. 1960) sold for €25 million ($30 million) in a Christie’s Paris sale.
In an interview, Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s vice chairman, global fine arts, said that the sculpture being brought to sale this month, in comparison to the record-setting male figure comparables, is valuable given the female subject’s continuity throughout Giacometti’s work. He began casting female figures in the early 1940s and enlarged them in the late 1950s. “You really can’t get a better example that is indicative of the artist’s intention,” she said.
To sell Grande femme I, Sotheby’s will hold what’s known as a “sealed bid” sale intended to combine the anonymity of a private sale and the competition of public auction. Bidding will run from October 20 to 27. According to Sotheby’s statement, the “sealed bid process represents an open, competitive, and timed private sale.”
All interested buyers are required to submit a confidential bid for the work, which has a minimum starting bid of $90 million. At the sale’s close, Sotheby’s general council and an independent auditor will review the irrevocable bids, and the highest bidder will win the work. No specialists will able to review the bids.
“We conceived of this sale as a unique approach to this special object,” said Lampley, adding that the house was interested in “how to embrace the worldwide appeal of such an iconic work by one of the masters of the 20th century with the privacy clients expect when bidding at this price level.”