A Northern California District Court judge awarded nearly $ 15 million to three women and a couple who sued the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco after the loss of their frozen eggs and embryos.
A jury ruled Thursday that five, of the hundreds who also sued, will be awarded $ 14.975 million for pain, suffering and emotional distress, as well as the economic loss of damaged or lost eggs or embryos.
Thousands of eggs were destroyed in 2018 after “the temperature in a cryogenic tank dropped below necessary levels” at the San Francisco clinic, affecting more than 400 clients, The Sacramento Bee previously reported.
One of the women, Chloe Poynton, 39, said she lost nine eggs in the incident, The Associated Press reported.
“It’s really painful to be at a baby shower celebrating someone else’s family building and knowing inside that you’re never going to get it,” Poynton said at the trial. “So you start to back away. You start to isolate yourself.
John Duffy, lawyer for Chart Industries, the maker of the cryogenic tank, said workers at the Pacific Fertility Center “ignored the alarms and used the tanks improperly, bypassing its built-in” fail-safe “technology, Reuters reported.
Dena Sharp, an attorney for the clinic’s clients, said the manufacturer was aware of the tank’s faults and that the plant’s failure had left people’s lives “irreversibly changed,” according to Reuters.
“None of these people can bring the body clock back to where it was before that day,” Sharp said.
McClatchy News has contacted the clinic and the manufacturer for comment, but did not immediately receive a response on Friday.
The jury ruled that the manufacturing defect was a “significant factor” in “causing harm” to the women and the couple in the case.
The jury attributed the bulk of the blame – 90% – to Chart Industries and the remaining 10% to the clinic.
The three women received between $ 2 million and $ 3 million each for their ruined eggs while the couple received $ 7.2 million for their destroyed embryos, according to the verdict.
One of the women, called “SM” in the lawsuit, said she received an email from Pacific Fertility on March 11, 2018 about “a very unfortunate incident” telling her that the cryogenic tank with her frozen eggs ” had lost liquid nitrogen for a short time. ”After calling the clinic, she learned that her eggs were ruined, according to the lawsuit.
The class action, filed on March 13, 2018, for negligence, breach of contract, bond and violation of unfair competition law.
The 2018 San Francisco incident happened on the same weekend that more than 4,000 frozen eggs and embryos were destroyed at the University Hospitals Fertility Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, CNN reported. Lawsuits have been filed against plaintiffs, including a couple who lost five embryos and a woman who lost eggs.