Shelton Man Awarded 2.5 Million Dollars For Mistaken DNA Paternity Diagnosis

Jul 5th, 2023 | News

A mistaken DNA paternity diagnosis wreaked havoc on 34-year-old Joel Santiago’s life, so much so, that a jury of his peers awarded a verdict of 2.5 million dollars to the Shelton father. The plaintiff was represented by Steven Errante, Marisa Bellair, and Rosalie Louis of LTKE Law in New Haven. The case was heard by the honorable Barry Stevens in Bridgeport Superior Court and concluded on June 28th. The trial which lasted four days took the jury less than two hours to decide on what they believed to be fair, just, and reasonable damages.

The mistaken diagnosis led to a series of repercussions affecting all involved. The story begins when Joel Santiago learns his girlfriend is engaged to another, so he breaks off the relationship until she agreed to leave her fiancé. Once she does Joel agrees to a reunion. She becomes pregnant in 2015 and agrees to a DNA test to prove Joel is the father. The DNA test conducted by DNA Diagnostics, Inc. concluded that there was 0% chance that Joel was the father. The couple then separated, and Joel did not continue the relationship. He started another family but 16 months later he heard from DNA Diagnostics that in fact they were wrong, and he was indeed the father. The new and correct result had a negative domino effect on the plaintiff as it soured his relationship with his current family causing a breakup.

Santiago sued for damages because he couldn’t name his child, he missed 16 months of raising his child, and the mistaken diagnosis negatively changed the whole trajectory of his life.

Attorney Steve Errante said after the trial, “Nothing can correct all the damage that was done to Mr. Santiago. I just hope the verdict will incentivize DNA testing companies to be more diligent because people and their lives are dependent on their accuracy. As for Joel, while the verdict may have been fair, I know that no amount of money will make up for the upheaval in his life.”