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PWCK and DL: Families Victimized by UHFC Embryo Destruction Seek New Action

January 24, 2019

CLEVELAND--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan 24, 2019--The following was issued by Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane (PWCK) and DiCello Levitt (DL):

Almost one year after the 4,000-embryo destruction at University Hospitals (UH), area families have filed numerous new legal actions to make sure that justice is served. The families are concerned that the time for action – including for families currently without legal counsel to join the litigation – is running out against the UH medical complex and other responsible parties.

In response to the concerns of the UHFC victim families, Cleveland law firms Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane (PWCK) and DiCello Levitt (DL) filed many new lawsuits today in federal court and Geauga County seeking damages from University Hospitals (UH) and related organizations, as well as CAS Data Loggers (CAS) of Chesterland, OH, for their roles in the tragic destruction nearly one year ago of 4,000 eggs and embryos.

The new lawsuits filed today by both law firms cites as defendants UH Health Systems, Inc., UH Cleveland Medical Center, University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, University Hospitals Medical Practice and CAS Data Loggers. The latter is a firm specializing in temperature monitoring and reporting and was responsible for the alarm system linked to the destruction of 4,000 embryos and eggs. CAS has its headquarters in Geauga County. The new lawsuits seek jury trials to determine appropriate compensatory and punitive damages. The lawsuits allege negligence, gross negligence and breach of contract.

At the news conference today, reporters heard from two of the families. UHFC victim families are concerned that the massive 150-site UH medical complex has not yet resolved the matter. The families made clear that they are not happy with the delay.

Joe and Kim Bucar of Lake County. Kim is 43 years old, Joe is 49 years old, and the couple had 10 embryos in storage. Kim said: “We trusted University Hospitals.They let us down when they destroyed our embryos.Until this tragedy happened, we were a real in vitro fertilization success story since we have one child who came about due to IVF.We had hoped to continue to grow our family, but the IVF process used to get the eggs is just too physically and emotionally challenging after this loss.We are still mourning what happened here and we want to make sure it never happens to another couple like us.”

Also speaking at the news conference were Matt and Emily Petite, of Lake County. Emily said: “University Hospitals came out publicly last spring, admitted they were wrong and said they were going to fix things.I am 31 years old and I credit IVF with ensuring that we have a son.Our plan was to use the four embryos in storage and try to grow our family, but that is not going to happen now.This tragedy and what we lost is just too great a heartbreak for us to contemplate having another child.You can’t imagine what this emotional toll is like until you have to give up your dreams of bringing another son or daughter into the world.”

Adam Wolf, attorney and shareholder, Peiffer Wolf Carr and Kane, said: “UH admits that it failed with its handling of the now-destroyed embryos. UH acknowledged that the families who entrusted their eggs and embryos to them were counting on them to protect those precious items.These families were trusting UH to properly freeze and safely store their eggs and embryos. These destroyed eggs and embryos were the future children of these families, who have suffered extreme emotional distress and grief regarding the loss of their embryos.”

Bobby DiCello, partner, DiCello Levitt, said: “University Hospitals has the time to focus on its $298-million expansion plans, but has not gotten this thing done.Our clients want action to make something happen now and that is what we are trying to do for them.These families deserve justice.”

In March 2018, PWCK and DL filed their initial lawsuits in the names of a few couples and on behalf of the victims of University Hospitals Health System, Inc., University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, Inc., University Hospitals Medical Group, Inc., and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, all of Ohio.

UHFC already has admitted publicly that it “failed” in its handling of the embryo losses, which took place after a storage tank and alarm failure on March 3-4, 2018. After initially misreporting the estimated number of lost embryos and eggs at 2,000, UHFC followed up weeks later with a more accurate number of 4,000. Since then, UHFC has disclosed additional information on what actually happened at the lab, including that the tank was first flagged as a problem months earlier, that the tank needed preventative maintenance, that UHFC was manually filling the malfunctioning tank from the top, that the embryology lab ran out of liquid nitrogen, and that tank’s remote alarm, which was designed to alert UHFC staff to temperature fluctuations, was turned off.

Couples and individuals that entrust their eggs and embryos for storage do so often after exhausting other avenues and attempts at having a child. In some cases, individuals and couples store eggs at an early age in anticipation of starting a family later in life. In still other cases, families with modest means will go deeply into debt in order to finance in vitro fertilization procedures (which often must be repeated) and to pay for short- or long-term egg/embryo storage. For many older individuals and couples, a stored egg or embryo may be their only hope for giving birth with lower risks of serious complications.

ABOUT THE LAW FIRMS

The law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane maintains offices in Cleveland, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and New Orleans. PWCK has handled multiple cases in which fertility clinics were accused of either destroying or losing eggs and embryos. This is a highly technical area of law and science and, individuals seeking legal representation in the UHFC matter would be well advised to look to a law firm that has successfully handled such cases in the past.

DiCello Levitt combines excellence in class action, mass tort, catastrophic injury, medical malpractice, civil rights, and commercial litigation. Practicing nationwide and internationally from offices in Chicago and Cleveland, DL is an aggressive, attentive, and creative plaintiffs’ firm whose work speaks for itself – billions of dollars in recovery in some of the highest-profile matters in U.S. history.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An archived version of today’s news event will be available as of 5 p.m. EST on January 24th at https://www.uhembryolawsuit.com/ and https://www.dlcfirm.com/.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190124005705/en/

CONTACT: MEDIA CONTACT:

Whitney Dunlap, for both law firms, (614) 706-7672 orwdunlap@hastingsgroup.com

KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA OHIO

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: HEALTH OTHER HEALTH PROFESSIONAL SERVICES LEGAL GENERAL HEALTH

SOURCE: Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane (PWCK) and DiCello Levitt (DL)

Copyright Business Wire 2019.

PUB: 01/24/2019 01:58 PM/DISC: 01/24/2019 01:58 PM

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190124005705/en

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