TAMPA — Florida and Maryland are taking action to shut down a company that markets birth surrogates to same-sex couples, accusing the firm of failing to deliver on promised services.
The office of Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a civil suit April 24 in Hillsborough Circuit Court alleging deceptive and unfair trade practices against The Surrogacy Group LLC and owner Gregory Blosser. Based in Annapolis, Md., the company has offices in Tampa, among other locations.
On its website Friday, The Surrogacy Group was advertising "456 babies born (and counting)," along with an appeal to same-sex couples and others.
"GLBT parents face special challenges and obstacles in the surrogacy process," the website says. "It is important for GLBT parents to match with a surrogate who is supportive of working with a same-sex couple."
The Florida lawsuit says The Surrogacy Group and Blosser took deposits from clients and abruptly stopped services or provided no services at all. The money had been paid to set up relationships between surrogates and intended parents and for surrogates' medical care, according to the lawsuit.
In at least one instance, a surrogate was left with significant debts, the lawsuit says.
"The Surrogacy Group and its principle Blosser portray themselves as trusted guides, but for many they have betrayed this trust," the lawsuit says.
Surrogacy, according to the lawsuit, is an arrangement whereby a woman agrees to become pregnant, carry the pregnancy to term, and give birth to a child or children for another person or persons who ultimately become the parent or parents.
In a news release, Attorney General Moody put the amount paid in Florida for services that were never delivered at $270,000.
The Surrogacy Group promised that deposits would be held in an escrow account, advertised a money-back guarantee and offered 24-hour assistance. Moody's office opened an investigation in February after receiving a number of consumer complaints.
Blosser is identified in the lawsuit as owner and chief executive of the company. Attempts to reach the company and Blosser through phone numbers listed for them in the Tampa area were unsuccessful.
Blosser also couldn't be located by at least two attorneys who attempted to contact him on behalf of clients who were intended parents, the lawsuit says.
The Division of Corporations dissolved The Surrogacy Group administratively in September 2018 for failure to file Florida reports. An eviction action was filed against The Surrogacy Group in March 2018 by managers of the Wells Fargo Center at 100 S. Ashley St. downtown, where the company maintained offices. The company had signed a five-year lease a year earlier.
The Attorney General's Office is asking a judge to stop the company from providing surrogacy services, soliciting new consumers, destroying or concealing information related to its operations and collecting any outstanding payments from consumers.
It also seeks restitution for customers and legal penalties.
In Maryland, Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced in April that his office was bringing legal action against The Surrogacy Group and noted that a judge had issued a temporary restraining order preventing the company from offering services or collecting payments.
Florida consumers wishing to file a complaint against the defendants or who have information about them can visit MyFloridaLegal.com or call 1(866) 9NO-SCAM.