Fertility Clinic Sued for Cryo Tank Malfunctions

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By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on January 28, 2019 12:14 PM

Over 70 lawsuits have now been filed against University Hospitals Fertility Center in Beachwood, Ohio, as well as CAS DataLoggers. These two parties are at the center of a series of unfortunate events that led to the destruction of approximately 4,000 eggs and embryos after the cryo-facility inadvertently warmed-up to unsafe temperatures for an unknown period of time back on March 4, 2018.

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is one year. Thus, expect to see more fillings as we head closer to the one year anniversary of this disastrous event that led to heartbreak for many families seeking fertility treatment.

Fertility Freezer Meltdown

According to University Hospitals officials, the temperature in the storage tanks warmed up to unsafe levels for an unknown period of time. Though it is unclear why the tanks warmed, the alarm system on the tanks should have alerted employees about the temperature swing. But for some reason, the system had been turned off.

According to the letter immediately informing the nearly 1,000 clients affected by this tragedy, "We don't know who turned off the remote alarm nor do we know how long it was off," the letter stated. "We are still seeking those answers." Since that time, University Hospitals has apologized and offered free fertility services to those affected.

Malpractice Lawsuits Allege Negligence, but Could Rise to Wrongful Death

Those individuals and families that have suffered from this meltdown have filed lawsuits and claims against the University Hospitals and CAS DataLoggers, the company responsible for monitoring the remote alarm. For many, apologies and free services aren't enough. "The loss suffered by our clients is devastating," said Adam Wolf, attorney with the law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr and Kane, representing about 100 of the nearly 1,000 families affected. "Those eggs and embryos represented the hopes of having children for hundreds of American families."

Some families have already settled breach of contract and negligence lawsuits with the defendants. According to a statement issued by University Hospitals, "UH has worked with Fertility Center patients and their lawyers over the past year to negotiate a significant number of settlements and will continue offering resolution alternatives to our patients who want to avoid the time, expense, and anxiety of litigation." However, one family is looking to file a more unique lawsuit against University Hospitals. Rick and Wendy Penniman are seeking a legal declaration that their lost embryos should be considered living people, not property. If granted, the Pennimans could file a different lawsuit, potentially wrongful death.

If you or someone you love has lost eggs or embryos due to equipment malfunction or human error, contact a local personal injury attorney. This sort of loss can be very devastating, especially for those that may have a compounded situation. A lawyer can listen to the facts of your case, and offer you good advice on your opportunity to recover for your losses.

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