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Jury awards $ 15 million to victims of embryo loss


Jurado awards nearly $ 15 million after a tank failure at a California fertility clinic destroyed frozen embryos.

Cryobots: the guardians of IVF 1:23

(CNN) -

In a landmark verdict, a jury awarded five victims nearly $ 15 million after a storage tank failure at a San Francisco fertility clinic destroyed their frozen embryos three years ago.

The verdict is the first to award damages to victims who lost the opportunity to have biological children due to a malfunction in a freezing tank.

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The Pacific Fertility Center said a piece of equipment in its cyber storage lab "lost liquid nitrogen for a short time" on March 4, 2018, ruining the viability of some frozen embryos.

"We sincerely regret that this has happened and the anxiety it will surely cause," Pacific Fertility Center said in a note of apology shortly after the incident occurred.

Manufacturer's liability

On Thursday, more than three years after the event, a jury in the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the tank manufacturer was held accountable.


The Pacific Fertility Center, where the frozen embryos were destroyed after an equipment failure in 2018.

According to the verdict, at least one of the tanks produced by the manufacturer Chart was defective, and it was a "substantial factor causing damage" to the five plaintiffs.

The jury concluded that Chart was 90% at fault, while Pacific Fertility Center was 10%.

The manufacturer and Pacific Fertility Center were negligent regarding the tank, according to the verdict, and the manufacturer should have known that the faulty tank controller was or could be dangerous.

Chart became aware of the defect after making the tank sale, but did not remove the equipment from circulation or fix the problem, according to the verdict.

The compensation covers the value of the lost eggs, as well as the pain, suffering and emotional anguish suffered by the victims.

"These families have suffered unspeakable loss and continue to struggle every day with the tragedy that took place more than three years ago at the Pacific Fertility Center," said attorney Adam Wolf, who represents victims in other cases related to the in vitro fertilization and genetic material.

"Today's jury decision honors the pain and suffering these families have gone through and continue to go through," Wolf said.

Other similar cases

In an unrelated event that same weekend in March 2018, thousands of frozen eggs and embryos were also compromised at University Hospitals Medical Center in Cleveland.

A breakdown caused a drop in temperatures in the freezers where they were stored.

The incident affected hundreds of families, the University Hospitals said at the time.

In February 2020, two new lawsuits were filed against the Cleveland University Hospitals Fertility Clinic.

- With information from Holly Yan and Susannah Cullinane.

California Embryos

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2021-06-12

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