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Fertility Clinic Sued After Freezer Meltdown

By Molly Zilli, Esq. on March 14, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There are few desires as primordial and existential as the desire to have children and start a family. For some, it only takes a few tequila shots and a Marvin Gaye album. For others, the long process of freezing their eggs or embryos provides the only hope of having their own biological children someday.

In the latter scenario, people entrust their eggs and embryos to a fertility clinic. In a devastating case out of Ohio, couples are suing a fertility clinic near Cleveland after a meltdown occurred in one of its tanks, damaging thousands of eggs and embryos contained inside. As one of the lawsuits contends, the clinic "destroyed the hopes, dreams, and futures of hundreds, if not thousands of prospective Ohio parents and families."

What Happened at the Clinic?

Generally, some women freeze their eggs for future use because they are not ready or able to start a family. Others do so to preserve their eggs before undergoing treatment for illnesses such as cancer. Similarly, some couples choose to have their eggs fertilized, with the resulting embryo frozen for later implantation. The process is often long, meticulous, and expensive.

The meltdown in this case occurred at Ahuja Medical Center, a fertility clinic in Beachwood, Ohio. Over the weekend of March 3rd, a liquid nitrogen storage tank experienced fluctuations in temperature causing the eggs and embryos contained in that tank to thaw. This rendered approximately 2,000 eggs and embryos unviable for later use. Unfortunately, there were no employees on-site at the time, and an off-site monitoring program did not alert staff to the problem. Employees discovered the alarm on Sunday when they returned to the clinic.

The Lawsuit Against the Fertility Clinic

Hundreds of clients have been affected by the fertility clinic's meltdown, and multiple couples have already filed lawsuits against the medical center. Their complaints include allegations that the clinic acted negligently and breached their contracts with the clients.

The couples argue that the clinic acted negligently by failing to maintain the appropriate temperatures required for their eggs and embryos, and that their storage and alarm systems were insufficient to guard against this type of event. The complaints also outlines the costs -- physical, financial, and emotional -- of having one's eggs or embryos frozen, and the devastation of having lost their "future children." The lawsuits do not specify the exact amount of damages the couples are seeking.

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