In 2001, Long Island surgeon, Dr. Richard Batista, donated his kidney to his wife, Dawnell, in order to save her life. Although the surgery was a success, the same cannot be said for the marriage which ended when Dawnell filed for divorce in 2005 after 15 years. Batista claims that his wife began cheating on him eighteen to twenty-four months after she received the transplant.
Instead of fighting over the million-dollar home they shared, Batista is asking that either his kidney be returned or that he be compensated for it. He is seeking $1.5 million in damages. Batista claims that his demand stems from frustration regarding the ongoing negotiation process with his soon to be ex-wife. He decided to go public with the details of his divorce as a last resort after being prevented from seeing his three children for months at a time.
Matrimonial attorneys were quick to voice legal opinions that Batista’s claim for damages would fail. In the Huffington Post article “Divorcing Man Wants Kidney Back After Wife Cheats,” a Manhattan attorney, Susan Moss, argues that no judge will entertain this demand because judges are unwilling to place a value on such assets. She cites a similar case in which a husband wanted to be repaid for the cost of breast implants but was denied compensation.
Moss’s prediction was correct. In February, a Long Island Judge rejected Batista’s request on the grounds that it would violate public policy. The Judge’s Referee, Jeffrey Grob, wrote, in a ten page ruling, that entertaining Batista’s claim would make the statement that human organs are commodities.
Divorces can become ugly, but what is the world coming to when we start fighting over body parts?
For more information see “Judge Rejects Long Island Doctor Dr. Richard Batista’s Bid to Charge Estranged Wife for Kidney”