80-Year-Old Men Believe They Were Switched at Birth, Sue

John William Carr III, Jackie Lee Spencer sue diocese that ran the hospital
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 9, 2020 6:59 PM CDT
Men Believe They Were Switched at Birth in 1942
Stock photo.   (Getty Images)

Two men who believe they were switched at birth nearly 80 years ago are suing a Roman Catholic diocese in West Virginia, alleging negligence and breach of duty by the hospital where they were born. John William Carr III and Jackie Lee Spencer were born Aug. 29, 1942, at St. Joseph Hospital in Buckhannon, reports the AP. The lawsuit filed Friday in Monongalia County Circuit Court against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston says staffers at the diocese-run hospital sent them home with the wrong families, the Dominion Post reported. The switch was discovered last year when DNA tests showed Carr and Spencer had no genetic matches with the families that raised them but did match the other's family, the men say in their lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.

Spencer spent more than 50 years searching for the man listed on his birth certificate as his father, he says in the lawsuit. He had been told the man abandoned his mother prior to his birth. After finding relatives of the man, Spencer took a DNA test to see if he was related and discovered he was not, triggering the series of events that led to the men uncovering the alleged mix-up. Carr, Spencer, and their families have suffered a "lifetime of consequences" from the switch, they say in the lawsuit. Spencer, now in his twilight years, never got to know many of his family members. "He feels as though most of his family died all at once. He grieves for the loss of the life he was supposed to have, while reconciling those feeling with the love and gratitude he feels for the family he has known his whole life," reads the suit. Carr said he looks different from the family that raised him and always felt out of place.

(Read more switched at birth stories.)

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