Man fights for damages after ex steals sperm from bank

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- It's a case unlike any the state of Texas has seen.

"The reproductive industry -- sperm banks and IVF -- is virtually unregulated across the country," said attorney Cade Bernsen.

The case of Layne Hardin and Cathy LeBlanc could potentially impact the way sperm banks work or even bring about more reproductive rights cases.

"The laws have not kept up with the technology," said Bernsen.

Bernsen said Hardin's ex-girlfriend was able to casually walk into a sperm bank and take Hardin's frozen sperm to get herself pregnant.

LeBlanc, who is the mother of Hardin's first son, had a contract stating she was the rightful owner of the sperm, no matter what.

ORIGINAL STORY: Lawsuit: Sperm bank gave woman ex-boyfriend's semen to get pregnant

"The sperm bank violated that contract and gave it to a person who should not have gotten it," argued Bernsen.

In 2015, a jury ruled in favor of Hardin and LeBlanc, awarding them almost a million dollars for mental anguish damages.

However, the judge overturned that, stating that it was a wrongful pregnancy case and the couple should not receive mental anguish damages.

"In other words, the existence of a child does not allow someone to get money for their pain and suffering," said attorney Lee Hoffoss, who represented the other side.

Lawyers for the ex-girlfriend, Tobie Devall, argued their case before the appeals court Wednesday stating that if the court allows Hardin and LeBlanc to get the money, it may send the wrong message to the child involved.

The lawyers are concerned that they are saying there is a cash value placed on a person's life.

"(I'm) hoping the court of appeals will listen to those jurors because it was spoken that day," said Hardin. "It has been a long hard road."

The road is far from over, for now.

It's unclear when the appeals court will come back with a ruling.
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