$15 million awarded to five people whose embryos were lost in a freezer malfunction

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$15 million awarded to five people whose embryos were lost to a freezer malfunction at a San Francisco fertility clinic, setting a legal precedent for similar losses

  • Five victims were awarded $15 million by a jury after a freezer tank containing embryos at San Francisco’s Pacific Fertility Center malfunctioned in 2018
  • A federal jury in California found that Chart Industries Inc. was responsible for defects in a tank that caused the destruction of human eggs and embryos
  • On March 4, 2018, the Pacific Fertility Center said a device in its cryo-storage lab “lost liquid nitrogen for a short period of time”
  • The jury determined that Chart Inc. knew or should have known about the defect and was unable to recall the tank
  • The five plaintiffs, including three women and a couple, were awarded damages of between $2.07 million and $7.2 million.

Five victims received $15 million after a freezer tank containing embryos at a California fertility clinic malfunctioned.

A federal jury in California found on Thursday that Chart Industries Inc. was responsible for defects in a cryopreservation tank that caused the destruction of human eggs and embryos at the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco in 2018.

Chart pays five victims $15 million in the… first judgment to award compensation to victims who lost their chance of having biological children due to a freezer malfunction, CNN reported.

Five victims were awarded $15 million by a jury after a freezer tank containing embryos at San Francisco's Pacific Fertility Center (pictured) malfunctioned in 2018

Five victims were awarded $15 million by a jury after a freezer tank containing embryos at San Francisco’s Pacific Fertility Center (pictured) malfunctioned in 2018

A federal jury in California found that Chart Industries Inc.  was responsible for defects in a tank that caused the destruction of human eggs and embryos (photo)

A federal jury in California found that Chart Industries Inc. was responsible for defects in a tank that caused the destruction of human eggs and embryos (photo)

The verdict sets a precedent for other pending similar claims, said Adam Wolf, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

“These families have suffered an unspeakable loss and are still grappling every day with the tragedy that occurred at the Pacific Fertility Center more than three years ago,” Wolf told Los Angeles law firm Peiffer Wolf. Bloomberg’s Law in a statement.

On March 4, 2018, the Pacific Fertility Center said a device in its cryo-storage lab “lost liquid nitrogen for a short time,” leading to the destruction of certain stored frozen embryos.

“We are truly sorry that this has happened and for the fear this will certainly cause,” the Pacific Fertility Center said in a post-incident apology.

On Thursday, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that Chart, the tank manufacturer, was responsible for 90 percent of the damages suffered by the plaintiffs, while Pacific Fertility Center was guilty of 10 percent.

The court said claims against the center must be settled.

On March 4, 2018, the Pacific Fertility Center said a device in its cryo-storage lab

On March 4, 2018, the Pacific Fertility Center said a device in its cryo-storage lab “lost liquid nitrogen for a short period of time”

The jury determined that Chart Inc.  knew or should have known about the defect and did not remember the tank that led to the destruction of the victim's eggs and embryos

The jury determined that Chart Inc. knew or should have known about the defect and did not remember the tank that led to the destruction of the victim’s eggs and embryos

Chart became aware of the defect after the tank was sold, but was unable to recall the equipment or fix the problem, the verdict said.

The jury determined that the company was or should have been aware of the defect and could not recall the tank, Bloomberg Law reported.

The five plaintiffs, including three women and a couple, were each awarded between $2.07 million and $7.2 million in damages. for the loss of the eggs and embryos, as well as their pain, suffering and emotional distress, Bloomberg Law reported.

Wolf told Bloomberg Law that nearly 200 other patients at the San Francisco clinic are awaiting their day in court or in arbitration proceedings.

In an unrelated event on the same weekend in 2018, more than 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos were also affected at University Hospital Cleveland Medical Center after a power outage caused temperatures drop in the freezers where they were stored, CNN reported.

In February 2020, two new lawsuits were filed against the Cleveland clinic.

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