University Hospitals is facing several lawsuits after more than a thousand frozen eggs and embryos in its Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood, Ohio have been damaged by a devastating equipment failure.
Last week, the institution admitted discovering that one of its Fertility Center's storage tanks had increased temperatures. This malfunction caused around 2,000 pieces of specimen inside a liquid nitrogen freezer to thaw and in a vain effort to address the situation, the clinic transferred them to another storage tank.
Strange enough, a similar incident occurred during the same day in a separate fertility clinic across the country. But unlike the disaster in Ohio in which 99 to 100 percent has been destroyed, thousands of eggs and embryos were still able to survive in the San Francisco facility.
The 700 patients owning the damaged specimen were immediately notified by UH and three couples have already responded by filing a case over the weekend. More are expected to come in the following days.
Status Of Lawsuits Filed Against University Hospitals
Besides the three, one the plaintiffs' legal counsel Tom Merriman revealed that he had also met with some of the other couples last Monday, March 12.
A team in his firm are already drawing up lawsuits that will be filed within this week in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
In a report, he shares that the malfunction is "far more catastrophic" than everyone thinks, as many of the affected patients whom he has talked to were told by fertility doctors that their embryos are no longer viable.
So far, the three lawsuits filed against UH have already been assigned to various judges. However, this is still subject to change according to the court's presiding judge John Russo.
First, UH or any of the plaintiffs' attorneys will need to submit a motion of consolidation for all the cases.
Overseeing this process is Stuart Friedmann, the judge assigned the first lawsuit filed against the institution on Friday by Cleveland attorney Stuart Scott representing John and Kristine Brickel of Bay Village.
The two other cases were filed by Lauren and Dustin Clark from Pennsylvania, and Amber and Elliott Ash also from Bay Village.
Scott and other legal counsel to the plaintiffs are planning a class action certification, based on the similarities of the damage resulting from the malfunction.
Controversy Surrounding The UH Fertility Clinic Malfunction
In a separate report, Rick Paulson of Keck Medicine, University of Southern California claims that it would take more than a week for the frozen eggs and embryos to suffer damage if ever their equipment were to fail.
"Our tanks have an automatic refill function. They are continuously monitored. To double check the equipment, levels of liquid nitrogen are checked daily," he says. "Even if all monitoring and automatic filling equipment were to malfunction at the same time, nothing bad would happen to stored eggs and embryos for at least 2 weeks."
In a Facebook post, UH announces that its fertility clinic's malfunction is currently under investigation and that it is working with each of the concerned patients.