Spanish Twins Separated at Birth by Hospital Error Suing Government

Spanish twins who were separated at birth through a hospital error — then reunited as adults through a fluke — are suing for millions in damages, as is a third woman who grew up thinking, erroneously, that she was one of the twins, a lawyer said Tuesday.

The real twins finally met each other in 2001. The case has been working its way through the courts since 2004. A decision is expected soon on whether the three women deserve damages, said Sebastian Socorro Perdomo, a lawyer for one of the twins.

He would not release the names of any of the women, who are all 35 years old.

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. The other two women are also suing, he said.

He said his client was taken out of her crib as her twin sister lay in one right next to her, mistakenly replaced by another baby girl, and ultimately raised by the family of that child.

The other two girls were brought up in the mistaken belief they were twin sisters.

"It does not take a lot of effort to put yourself in the position of any of these people in order to understand the damage that has been done," Socorro Perdomo said.

Of the three, he said his client — taken away from her twin sister and real family — is the most devastated. "Since this discovery, her world has turned a bit upside down," he said.

"The first right of any child is the right to their own personal and family identity," he said. "In this case, that right has been violated."

The error emerged a generation later, through a chance encounter at a clothing store in Las Palmas.

A friend of Socorro Perdomo's client worked in the shop. When a woman who was the spitting image of that client came in and failed to recognize the employee, the clerk was dumbfounded.

When the dead ringer came by the store a second time, the clerk began to put two and two together and arranged for the women to meet.

DNA tests proved they were identical twins, the lawyer said.