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Baltimore man sues DNA testing lab over faulty paternity test report

A Baltimore man has sued an Ohio company that does DNA testing, saying he was misled by a paternity test result that incorrectly indicated he was the father of a one-year-old girl. Subsequent tests, done several months later, revealed the man was not the girl’s father, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Nnanaka Nwofor is seeking $75,000 in compensatory damages for the costs of supporting the child and her mother, plus punitive damages from Fairfield, Ohio-based DNA Diagnostics Center Inc.

The complaint states that while DNA Diagnostics Center advertises its paternity tests as “100% accurate,” that assessment “could not have been further from the truth.”

Nwofor’s attorney, Charles Edwards, from the Law Office of Barry Glazer in Baltimore, said the damages cover more than the money Nwofor spent to raise the child and encompass the emotional pain he suffered after discovering the child was not his after he had formed a bond with her.

“He’s filled with sorrow about it, and it took a long time to tell his family that he wasn’t the father, because his family bonded with the child too,” Edwards said. “When a family goes all in and bonded to the child like he did and finds this out, it’s devastating.”

Attempts to reach DNA Diagnostics Center were unsuccessful.

The mother of the girl — who was born on April 6, 2018 — told Nwofor that he was the father, said Edwards, who added that his client was eager to raise the child and paid to rent an apartment for the mother and child and also paid child support.

Nwofor purchased a DNA Diagnostics home paternity test on May 3, 2019, from a local Walgreens store, the complaint says. The tests cost between $150 and $200, according to the DNA Diagnostics Center website. The test required a swab from inside the cheek of both Nwofor and the child, Edwards said.

Three days later, Nwofor downloaded the test results, which indicated — with a reported “99.9999999995%” probability of accuracy — that he was the biological father, the complaint says.

Several months later, a friend of the mother’s suggested to Nwofor that another man was the child’s father, which led Nwofor to buy another DNA Diagnostics Center test, according to the complaint. The second test found Nwofor was not the biological father, with a 0% probability of error, the complaint stated.

The complaint alleges that the genetic markers used in the first paternity test were different from those used in the second, which Edwards said demonstrated that the company had mishandled the genetic samples, leading to the incorrect test result on the first test.

To verify the second test’s results, Nwofor and the child went to a local health care facility for a third paternity test, which found Nwofor was not the girl’s biological father, according to the complaint.

The complaint accuses DNA Diagnostics Center of negligence; it also accuses the company of fraud by concealment because of its “100% accurate” claim on the company’s website.

On the website, DNA Diagnostics Center says that it analyzes close to one million DNA samples a year and that it is the “trusted laboratory” for government agencies and legal professionals and for TV shows that deal with paternity disputes, such as “Maury,” “Dr. Phil” and “Paternity Court.”

“Fathers get a bad rap these days, but then you’ve got people like (Nwofor) who stepped up and was supporting who he thought was his child and wanted to raise her,” Edwards said. “I take special interest in this as a father and someone who pays child support.”

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