Families who discovered babies switched at birth 20 years ago awarded $2.6M in damages

WATCH ABOVE: Manon Serrano is relieved the ordeal is behind her after a French court ordered the clinic that switched her at birth to pay up. Stuart Greer reports.

TORONTO – Two French families have been awarded 1.88-million euros (CDN $2.6M)┬áin damages after their daughters were accidentally switched at birth 20 years ago.

When Sophie Serrano welcomed a baby girl to the world two decades ago, she probably wasn’t expecting to take home a different child altogether.

But that’s exactly what happened at a private clinic in Cannes.

Serrano’s daughter appeared jaundice at birth and was placed inside an incubator along with another newborn.

The next time Serrano saw her little girl, she looked decidedly different. In fact, both mothers were suspicious, but were sent home nonetheless.

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Three years later, Serrano watched her daughter, Manon, develop curly hair and an olive complexion in her skin – both traits Serrano and her husband didn’t possess.

Eventually village rumours spread about the Serrano’s and “the postman’s daughter.” The pressure was enough to cause the couple to separate.

Ten years after the births, Sophie’s estranged husband decided enough was enough and had a paternity test done.

When results didn’t show a parental link, Sophie followed suit and confirmed she too had been caring for someone else’s biological child.

An investigation located the other family some 30 kilometres away.

The two sets of parents eventually met and made two important decisions. The first was to begin a legal process and the second was to keep the children they originally took home.

“It was too difficult, so we each went our separate ways as it’s so distressing,” Sophie Serrano said in December. “It was the only way to find some stability again.”

“You find yourself in front of a woman who is biologically your mother but who is a stranger,” Manon Serrano said of meeting her biological parents for the first, and so far last time.

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A court has ordered Clinica Jourdan and an insurance company to pay each girl 400,000 euros in damages, each parent involved 300,000 euros and another 60,000 will go to three affected siblings.

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“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 with The Associated Press.

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.

— With files from The Associated Press