By James F. McCarty
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) At least three couples whose frozen eggs and embryos were destroyed filed lawsuits over the weekend. The hospital said last week that about 2,000 eggs and embryos stored in a large liquid nitrogen freezer at the Ahuja Medical Fertility Center in Beachwood may have been damaged when the temperature rose in a storage tank.
At least three couples whose frozen eggs and embryos were destroyed filed lawsuits over the weekend, as dozens more were expected to sue University Hospitals in the coming days, lawyers said Monday.
Plaintiffs attorney Tom Merriman said he met with multiple clients Monday, and received at least 15 emails from among the 700 people whose frozen eggs and embryos were thawed after a storage tank malfunction at the hospital’s Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood last week.
Merriman said a team of lawyers at his firm was preparing lawsuits for filing later this week in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
“I’ve talked to a lot of women and couples who have spoken with their fertility doctors, and not a one of them has been told that their embryos are still viable,” Merriman said. “I think this is far more catastrophic than anyone realized.”
The three lawsuits filed so far have all been assigned randomly to different judges, but that is likely to change, said Judge John J. Russo, the court’s administrative and presiding judge.
“Normally, we look to the first judge to receive a filed case and consolidate all of the subsequent cases with that judge,” Russo said.
University Hospitals or any of the plaintiffs’ lawyers would first have to file a motion of consolidation for the cases, Russo said. In this case, that judge would be Stuart Friedman, who was assigned the first lawsuit filed Friday by Cleveland attorney Stuart Scott on behalf of John and Kristine Brickel of Bay Village.