University Hospitals faces class action lawsuit in wake of egg and embryo crisis

Updated: Mar. 11, 2018 at 6:18 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A class action lawsuit will be filed Sunday against University Hospitals in response to the more than 2,000 eggs and embryos that were potentially damaged or destroyed at the hospital's fertility clinic. 

The lawsuit will be filed by Amber and Elliot Ash, a husband and wife who had an embryo stored at the facility.

University Hospitals issued the following statement Sunday:

"We understand why some people might feel compelled to take this step. Any lawsuits being filed will have no bearing on the independent review being conducted or our determination to help patients who have suffered this loss."

The Ash's are represented by DiCello Levitt & Casey, a law firm that has been involved in numerous recent high-profile class action lawsuits – ranging from Volkswagen to Equifax.

"Our clients are absolutely devastated, as I'm sure countless families across Ohio are, in the wake of this catastrophic failure by University Hospitals," said Mark DiCello of DiCello Levitt & Casey, attorney for the plaintiffs, in a prepared statement. "Let's not forget those affected are grieving the loss of thousands of potential daughters and sons. They are in a state of confusion, anger and sorrow, with too many unanswered questions. With this lawsuit, we will get answers and stop this from happening again."

Between last Saturday and Sunday, one of the fertility clinic's egg and embryo liquid nitrogen storage tanks began to warm up, triggering the present crisis.

The UH fertility clinic has set up a hotline (216-286-9740). The line is staffed by nurse professionals from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

On Thursday, UH officials issued the following:

We are investigating a recent incident at our Fertility Clinic involving an unexpected temperature fluctuation with the tissue storage bank where eggs and embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen. At this time, we don't yet know the viability of these eggs and embryos.

We have initiated an investigation to identify the cause of this event. We are bringing in independent experts to ensure we understand all aspects of this occurrence and do everything possible to address the situation.

Right now, our patients come first. We are incredibly sorry this happened. We are committed to getting answers and working with patients individually to address their concerns. We have already initiated contact with all of our patients to inform them and respond to their questions, and set up a designated call center to arrange personal meetings or calls with their physicians.

As always, we are guided by the principle that we are going to do the right thing by our patients and their families.

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