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Fertility Clinic Failure Blurs Legal Lines

by onApril 09, 2019

University Hospitals Fertility Center is facing a number of lawsuits a year after their cryo tanks malfunctioned, resulting in the destruction of more than 4,000 eggs and embryos. This case is interesting insofar as it blurs a number of legal lines including potentially criminally negligent homicide, medical malpractice, or the destruction of property.

What is an Embryo?

To understand the case better, we must first consider what an embryo is. Is it a human? Does it have rights? What rights do the parents have under the law? These are all questions that need to be sorted out before taking a look at this case.

If, for instance, a pregnant woman is injured in an attack, the attacker can be charged with homicide for the death of the fetus. Does that mean that the University Hospitals Fertility Center can be held liable under the criminal code? Do the parents have a case for wrongful death? More generally, does an embryo qualify as a “person” if the parents have the intention of keeping it?

What Happened?

According to reports, the temperature in the refrigeration chambers used to store the embryos increased. When this happened, staff should have been alerted to the problem via an alarm system that was installed to prevent this kind of disaster. The alarm system, operated by CAS DataLoggers had been turned off, failing to report the temperature increase. This resulted in the destruction of the embryos. Nearly 1000 families lost embryos to technological failure.

How Should Victims be Compensated?

To date, there are more than 100 couples filing lawsuits on the grounds of medical malpractice. There is one couple that is attempting to file on the grounds that the embryos were unique and therefore persons. This would impact how the case plays out in court. While the individuals responsible for the blunder would likely not be charged with crimes, if the court rules that the embryos were people, they could file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Those filing under a theory of medical malpractice only have until the early part of March to file their claim as there is a one-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims.

Talk to an Ohio Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you have been injured by medical malpractice or lost someone you love, you can sue for damages and recover expenses related to your injuries including lost time from work. You can also recover damages related to your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and other related non-economic damages. Contact the Ohio medical malpractice attorneys at Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, LLC for more information.

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