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03 December 2023

French baby-swap families win $2.1 million

Sophie Serrano is kissed by her daughter Manon. (AP)


A court on Tuesday ordered a private clinic in the Riviera city of Cannes to pay out 400,000 euros ($450,000) each to two 20-year-old girls accidentally switched at birth and given to the wrong parents — part of a 1.88-million euro payment to members of the two families.

The clinic's lawyer, Sophie Chas, said she wasn't immediately certain whether an appeal would be lodged against Tuesday's decision by the court in Grasse.

Chas said the court ordered payments by the Clinica Jourdan and an insurance company of 300,000 euros for each of three parents involved in the case and 60,000 euros for three brothers and sisters.

"I am perfectly satisfied (with the ruling) because responsibility within the medical chain was acknowledged," the lawyer for the victims, Gilbert Collard, said in a telephone interview. The families had sought a total of 12 million euros, but had little hope of obtaining that amount, he said.

A nurse's assistant had accidentally given baby Manon Serrano, who was in an incubator, to another mother after her birth in July 1994, and given the infant next to her to Sophie Serrano.

Three years later, Manon's hair grew curly and her skin olive-toned — unlike either parent. Her father separated from Sophie Serrano after village rumors spread about the young girl being "the postman's daughter." In 2004, DNA tests showed that Manon was the daughter of neither of them.

An investigation was launched and their biological child was located — some 30 kilometers (less than 20 miles) away.

Sophie Serrano, who raised Manon, expressed relief that the error was at last acknowledged.

"It's a relief. We have waited for this for so long," she said on iTele TV station.

The other family involved in the case has chosen to remain anonymous.

The suit brought in 2010 by the two families also targeted two doctors and the nurse's assistant who made the mistaken switch, but the court did not convict them.