SAN FRANCISCO – A jury awarded nearly $ 15 million on Thursday to five people who lost eggs or embryos when a cryogenic storage tank failed at a fertility clinic.
A federal jury awarded the award in a 2018 lawsuit over a reservoir failure at the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco, which destroyed approximately 3,500 frozen eggs and embryos.
The prize – including more than $ 14 million in damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress – will go to three women who have lost eggs and a married couple who have lost embryos.
Their case is the first to go to a jury, but hundreds of others have also sued the clinic and Chart Industries Inc., which made the cryogenic tank where the specimens were stored.
During the trial, the women and the couple described their pain from the loss.
Chloe Poynton, 39, lost nine eggs.
“It’s really painful to be at a baby shower celebrating someone else’s family building and knowing inside that you’ll never get it,” Poynton said. “So you start to back away. You start to isolate yourself.
A similar tank failure in a suburb of Cleveland that occurred on the same day as the San Francisco blackout ruined more than 4,000 eggs and embryos. These were the largest such losses ever recorded in the United States, forcing centers across the country to review their procedures.
In closing arguments at the San Francisco trial, an attorney for Chart blamed the fertility center for the reservoir’s failure. But jurors rejected the argument that the tank had been misused or improperly modified.
Jurors concluded that a manufacturing defect was the cause of the tank failure and found Chart 90% responsible and negligent for not recalling the defective part, believing it to be a “factor important ”to cause damage.
The room was a controller that monitored liquid nitrogen levels.
Pacific Fertility was found to be negligent and responsible for 10 percent of the damage.
The three women each received around $ 2-3 million, while the couple received $ 7.2 million.
Messages left with Chart’s lawyer and Pacific Fertility were not immediately returned Thursday.