In 2012, Atlanta-based company Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services was experiencing an unusual kind of property damage. Someone was repeatedly defecating in their warehouse. Knowing it had to be an employee and wanting to catch the culprit, Atlas decided to have the DNA tested of their two prime suspects Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds and compared to the DNA of the stool found in the warehouse. Lowe and Reynolds were told they needed to provide the DNA samples or risk losing their jobs. Atlas never informed them that the samples came back negative, proving that Lowe and Reynolds were not responsible. Instead they learned through the grapevine. During this time they were teased and humiliated by other co-workers. They later sued Atlas for violation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, seeking damages.
Prof. Paul Lombardo testified for the plaintiffs, describing the history of genetic discrimination leading up to the passage of GINA and the protections the law is intended to provide against misuse of DNA information by employers or insurers. Judge Amy Totenburg ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and the jury subsequently awarded them $2.2 million in damages.
For more on this case, visit
- Washington Post: “Jurors Award 2.25 Million in ‘Devious Defecator’ case,”
- BuzzFeed: “The Case of the Phantom Pooper is Hugely Important for Genetic Testing Laws,”
- Pacific Standard: “The ‘Devious Defecator’ and the New Frontiers of Privacy“
Paul A. Lombardo, Bobby Lee Cook Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law, is a lawyer/historian who specializes in health law, medico-legal history, and bioethics.