Missourians Sue Lab for Apparent Paternity Test Error That Cost Man $30k and Jail Time

Aug 12, 2015 at 7:00 am
Bill Manser and Elizabeth Sehr - Image via
Bill Manser and Elizabeth Sehr

According to a lawsuit filed Monday, Bill Manser is not a happy camper.

For 20 years, he was told by Elizabeth Sehr of southwest Missouri that he was the father to her child. He shelled out tens of thousands in child support, he claims, and even went to jail for falling behind on those payments.

Sehr herself had good reason to believe the narrative: A paternity test she'd ordered from a lab concluded with near certainty that Manser was her baby daddy.

Yet recently, both appeared on a little program called Paternity Court, where they learned the truth: Manser is NOT the father. They are now suing the surviving entity of the biomedical lab that originally told them otherwise.

Neither Manser nor Sehr disputes that in southwest Missouri in 1992, they had some kind of sexual relationship. He called it a fling; she said it was "hardly a one-night stand." Regardless, she gave birth to a son, Dylan, in January 1993.

A couple years later, Sehr ordered a paternity test from Roche Biomedical Laboratories, a national company that operated in Missouri. The test concluded that there was a 99.6 percent probablity that Manser had fathered the boy.

Manser moved to Lake County, Florida. He ended up paying more than $30,000 in child support to Sehr, and spent "significant time in prison" after failing to pay on time, he claims.

"He was never totally convinced Dylan was his son," said Rob Lutfiyya, the Brentwood-based attorney for all three plaintiffs, in an interview with Riverfront Times.

Lutfiyya says that the production staff of the show Paternity Court found out about their case and flew them out to California for a taping.

On August 12, 2013, Manser, Elizabeth Sehr and her 20-year-old son Dylan submitted to new DNA tests at a California lab frequently used by the show.

They appeared on the show on August 29, and got a rather different result.

All three of them are now suing the North Carolina-based LabCorp -- the only surviving entity of Roche -- on allegations of negligence and breach of contract for what now appears to be a false positive.

They all claim to have suffered "social ridicule and harrassment." Daily RFT asked Lutfiyya if that's only a natural result of discussing family issues on television. The attorney replied that the harrassment went beyond immediate reaction to the show; Elizabeth Sehr, for example, is being "emailed and Facebooked and called every name under the sun from people she doesn't know."

Lutfiyya says the real biological father was a former partner of Elizabeth's who lived in the area.

Lutfiyya says that the lab's ostensible screw-up has caused the most damage to Dylan Sehr, who is now 22 and lives in Dade County, west of Springfield. He is trying to absorb the knowledge that he grew up thinking his father had abandoned him, when in reality, his real biological father and two siblings lived nearby.

"He's struggling," Lutfiyya says. "It has really destroyed the relationship between Dylan and his mother."

We've reached out to LabCorp by phone and email, but have not heard back yet; when we do, we'll update the post.

In the meantime, here's a copy of the lawsuit:

Paternity Test Case