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Spanish Twins, Separated at Birth, Sue for Millions

You know that movie Big Business where Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin play twins switched at birth? This is like that, but in Spain — and with a lawsuit. What happened?

In 1973, a set of identical twins were accidentally separated at birth. One of the twins was allegedly removed from her crib shortly after birth and accidentally replaced with another girl. To see how they figured out what happened


Fast forward to 2001, a woman was working in a clothing shop in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, and was shocked when one of her regular customers and frequent shoppers suddenly claimed to have no recollection of ever shopping at her store or of knowing who the clerk was. When the same woman walked by a second time, the store employee asked if she would indulge her by meeting someone who often shopped in the store. The two identical women eventually met, setting in motion a very odd legal case currently taking place.

The attorney representing the real twins defended their case: "The first right of any child is the right to their own personal and family identity. In this case, that right has been violated." The reunited twins are now suing for millions in damages along with the woman who was mistakenly raised in place of the missing twin.

Do they have a case? Was it a simple accident, or a life-ruining event?


Join The Conversation
alinvenice alinvenice 9 years
Calimie: Distressing? Hmm. Finding out about my birth story for me was, among other things, enlightening. The range of emotions and adjustments and how they affected my life is beyond the scope of this forum. I'm glad that I found out about what happened - it has made my life better. I realize, though, that not all people who discover traumatic news about their births feel the same.
Calimie Calimie 9 years
Jennifer: Yes, health care is state run, like in France or Britain. Alinvenice: I'm sorry that happened to you. It must be very distressing. One of the Spanish twins (I believe she's the one who was raised as a single child) got into a deep depression when she found out and it took her two or three years to accept to do the DNA test. It was also reported that her legal mother had stopped speaking to her. Of course, we can't know how they got along before but this situation must have been horrible to her.
alinvenice alinvenice 9 years
I am interested in the subject because I was switched at birth myself, a secret I discovered five years ago. That has kind of pushed my interest level, um, off the chart. My earlier post, now that I read it again, was not real clear, but that is what I was trying to say. I have an unpublished memoir inspired by that life-transforming event. I'd be happy to share some of it with anybody interested.
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
I do think that being separated at birth would be a life-ruining event. I mean, there are so many things that we don't know. What if one of them grew up in a poor family and because of that their health is not as good as it could be, missed educational opportunities, missed financial opportunities, etc. Yes, it was a mistake but not all mistakes can be solved by saying sorry.
stephley stephley 9 years
No you're right, we sound like ambulance chasers. Why the personal interest in this subject, if you don't mind my asking.
alinvenice alinvenice 9 years
My google alert went off (an absolutely meaningless phrase just a few years ago) and I landed here. I'm fascinated by this topic as reflected in my "switched at birth" google alert, on which this article about the Spanish twin and non-twin who were switched popped up. Mostly I just want to pierce the legal veil (omg - you ladies sounded like a roomful of ambulance chasers!) and personalize the conversation. What kind of world would create such a bizarre twist for three innocent newborns? How does one measure damage done in such a circumstance compared to other forms of medical malpractice? And what would be the emotional and psychological impact of discovering that your most basic relationship - the one with your mother - was false, based on a stupid screw-up? On the up side, how many people get to have a second identity crisis of this nature? I'd be interested in hearing your responses. I didn't mean any offense by the ambulance chasers comment, but humor doesn't always work online. Or offline, for that matter. Peace.
kikidawn kikidawn 9 years
Cine, from the way I understand it... it goes like this: Baby A & Baby B were twins born together to one set of parents. Baby C was born at same time to different parents. Baby B & Baby C were switched making the twin's parents go home with one biological child (Baby A) and one non-biological child (Baby C). And then C's parents went home with Baby B (non-biological) lol does that make sense? but on the topic... yes, I think they all have a right to sue.
Geisha-Runner Geisha-Runner 9 years
Wow. Crazy story! Makes you wonder how many other babies have been switched! I can totally see why they are going for legal action!
anniebananie anniebananie 9 years
the two girls on the stock photo above look exactly like me when I was their age. Weird, maybe they are my long lost twins.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
i'm going to sue the hospital where i was born for NOT switching me with a rich baby with parents who would have paid for her to go to college, set her up with a nice house somewhere pretty, and supported her for the rest of her life. it's not fair!!! waaaah.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Woah, that would be SO weird!
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
It is like a Lifetime movie in real life! So one twin who is suing, what about the other twin on the other side? Am I missing something? Shouldn't there be two sets of screwed up twins?
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
I tend to agree with yesteryear here. What I find really odd is that they are suing the government. :?
Socorro Perdomo said in an interview that his client is seeking $4.7 million from the government of the Canary Islands, where the error occurred in 1973 in the city of Las Palmas.
I don't know what Spain's healthcare system is like. Maybe the hospital is government run...? Otherwise, that makes no sense to me.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
this case is so sad. twins have a special bond and knowing that you missed all those years with your other half must be awful. i don't think it's as simple as saying "well here you are now and everyone had a nice life". if you took the wrong baby home and found out later would you feel the same? it seems obvious that the hospital has a minimum level of responsibility that includes giving parents the right baby. to suggest otherwise is like saying "oh well this-baby-that-baby. tomato-to-mot-o. same differance".
Jazz-Z Jazz-Z 9 years
I think the other girl who was raised as a twin has an interesting story as well. She has a completely different set of birth parents and siblings as well, or she is an only child, or maybe she is still a twin with a different sibling. It would have been interesting to know a little more of the story.
flutterpie flutterpie 9 years
Okay who wants to be my long lost twin?
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
Wow, what a crazy story. Suing for millions though? That seems extreme.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I agree that statement doesn't really have any basis for legal claims (in the US), but I think that their situation does warrant a suit. They should hire a new lawyer, though! :)
SweetPeasMom SweetPeasMom 9 years
I guess I don't have a problem with them suing because of the mistake, but I don't like the lawyer's claim that "The first right of any child is the right to their own personal and family identity." It just doesn't sit right with me. If that were true, adopted children could sue their birth parents for violating their right to family identity.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I thought they were cute too, juju! ;) I think that the hospital clearly made a huge error. In other cases in the US where a child was switched with another, I believe they usually penalize the hospital and give damages to the family. In this case, since the "children" are now adults it would make sense that it would go to them.
juju4 juju4 9 years
Jillness, your twin smileys are so cute. :-) I wonder how the mix-up happened. Was it on purpose and malicious, or was it just an accident? No matter what, I do think that the children have the right to sue. If the parents choose to raise a child with their family, but a hospital's negligence interfered with that, then the children are the ones who missed out.
stephley stephley 9 years
It was the parents who were initially damaged, deprived of their child... It's happened before (though I'm not sure with twins) so I'm sure someone has figured out how everyone gets heard.
SweetPeasMom SweetPeasMom 9 years
Well, I think with that in mind, it would be up to the parents to sue, not the children, since they are the ones who would decide where the infant was raised (either with the birth parents, or with adoptive parents.) Because a child doesn't get to choose when it is born if it is adopted or raised with birth parents. It's not their right to have birth parents and a family identity. But the parents have a right then to raise their children or to choose not to raise them.
stephley stephley 9 years
I think its a tight legal squeeze: in the case of adoption, the parent has legal control over the child's life at the time they decide to put them up for adoption. I know adopted families don't always tell the child they're adopted, but they have that option. And at adulthood, the child has the right to look for their natural parents which a child who was switched wouldn't have unless the mistake is discovered.
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