On April 27, a Mesa County District Court jury awarded plaintiffs $8.75 million in their bizarre lawsuit against Paul B. Jones, a fertility doctor who used his own sperm to impregnate female patients – actions that weren’t actually illegal then in Colorado, but are now.
“Everyone’s reaction when they find out what he did is shocking,” Rep. Kerry Tipper said. Westword in February 2020, shortly after the Colorado House passed HB20-1014, titled “Misuse of Human Reproductive Materials,” which it introduced and sponsored after learning of the Jones case. “But when they find out it’s not a crime, it’s even more shocking.”
Among the main plaintiffs in the original lawsuit against Jones, filed in October 2019, were Cheryl Emmons, a former patient of the doctor, and her two daughters, Maia Emmons-Boring and Tahnee Scott, both conceived through artificial insemination. at Women’s Healthcare of Western Colorado, where the doctor practiced. In 2018, Emmons-Boring “took a DNA test to find out her heritage and dated a whole bunch of half-siblings,” Tipper shared. “They contacted each other and realized that the common thread they had was that their mothers went to see the same fertility doctor. And Maia is a lot like the doctor.”
After Emmons and her children filed suit against Jones, six other families followed suit. Jones responded by calling for the original suit to be dismissed as the statute of limitations had expired; Emmons-Boring was born in 1979, Scott in 1984. His motion also held that “neither spouse nor child has ever been physically harmed as a result of their alleged ancestral findings.” But the case was eventually allowed to move forward.
Emmons-Boring and her mother testified in support of the human material bill, and Tipper said she understood why: “It wasn’t like this doctor was donating to a sperm bank. He was going to in a room next to Maia’s mom’s was and was masturbating, producing a new sample, then coming in and inseminating her with that fresh sample – and she had no idea She said if she had knew it was his cum, there would be no way she experienced it.
As for Emmons-Boring, Tipper added, “When I met Maia, I was blown away listening to her talk about the pain, the shame and the really complicated feelings she has. It really shows the seriousness of this breach of trust.”
In the nearly two years since, Jones’ legal challenges have mounted. In November 2021, a new lawsuit was filed on behalf of Nichole Long and her parents, Betty and Karl Stephens; the document claimed DNA testing showed that Long and at least seventeen of his half-siblings were all biologically related to Jones.
Before the case went to trial, octogenarian Jones, who relinquished her medical license in 2019, and Women’s Healthcare of Western Colorado ended up settling with everyone other than the original plaintiffs. As a result, Emmons, Emmons-Boring and Scott will share the $8.75 million judgment. Jones is responsible for paying 30%, while the clinic is required to pay the rest.
Tipper’s bill passed and was signed into law in July 2020, so doctors in Colorado can no longer legally use their own sperm to impregnate female patients. Click to read Cheryl Emmons, et al., c. Paul B. Jones, et al. and Bill 20-1014.