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What would happen if you found out your biological father wasn’t who you thought he was?

The case of fertility doctor Norman Barwin has made headlines not just in Canada, but internationally as well. In a Statement of Claim our firm has filed, we have alleged that in the late 1980s he used his own sperm to impregnate at least two women during fertility treatments at his clinic, the Broadview Fertility Clinic. In the case of the Dixon family, Davina and Daniel Dixon went to Dr. Barwin for his help in conceiving a child together. For the Palmer family, Lyon and Janet Palmer saw Dr. Barwin for his assistance in conceiving a child with anonymous donor sperm. Both families are now coming to terms with the fact that Dr. Barwin used his own sperm in the process of artificial insemination.

In the spring of 2016, the Dixons had reason to question whether their daughter Rebecca is, in fact, Daniel’s biological child. A paternity DNA test confirmed their worst suspicions: Daniel Dixon is not Rebecca’s biological father.

Rebecca and her family unearthed previous legal proceedings against the fertility doctor. They could not help but notice that Rebecca bore an uncanny resemblance to Dr. Barwin.

At around the same time, we learned of Kathryn (“Kat”) Palmer, the daughter of Lyon and Janet, living in Vancouver, B.C. who had earlier approached Dr. Barwin about the possibility that she was his biological daughter. Dr. Barwin completed a DNA test between them and confirmed he was her biological father. Rebecca and Kat underwent DNA testing, which confirmed that they are half-sisters by way of the same biological father; that is, Dr. Norman Barwin.

Dr. Barwin now faces a class action law suit initiated by our firm, which claims that he is liable for breach of contract, battery, negligence and misrepresentation. The action seeks a range of damages for the injured parties, including for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, for loss of income, and for past and future care costs.

We are also seeking an order that Dr. Barwin provide a sample of his DNA so that anyone who may be in Kat or Rebecca’s situation can test their DNA against his.

You can learn more about the case, as well as read comments by our very own Peter Cronyn, in this recent article from the CBC. Personal Injury lawyers Peter Cronyn and Frances Shapiro Munn are representing the plaintiffs.

For details of the class action, and to read further media commentary, see our webpage here.

Former patients of Dr. Barwin and/or their children who wish for more information may contact Nelligan O’Brien Payne directly c/o Robyn Beaulne at 613-231-8214 or

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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