The prosecution, filed Thursday in federal court for clients residing outside Ohio and Geauga County for Ohio clients, is the first known case in these jurisdictions, according to plaintiffs' lawyers, who allege negligence and breach of contract.
Previously, lawsuits related to the failure of the Fertility Clinic's storage tank, which had destroyed more than 4,000 eggs and embryos and affected at least 950 families, were filed in Cuyahoga County, Cleveland.
The addition of a defendant to these latest lawsuits is another development.
In addition to tackling academic hospitals, the complainants in the latest complaints have named CAS DataLoggers. The company based in Geauga County distributes equipment that records data and was "supposed to monitor the alarm systems associated with the reservoirs of the university hospitals," said Adam Wolf, a lawyer in one of the two law firms representing clients in these cases.
"University hospitals have acknowledged their responsibility for the failures of their tanks, and this failure should not have happened," Wolf said. "The losses suffered by our customers are devastating.These eggs and embryos represented the hope of having children for hundreds of American families."
The CAS DataLoggers lawyer did not respond to a request for comment. Counsel for the plaintiffs could not specify the exact relationship that CAS DataLoggers had with the Fertility Treatment Center and stated that this information would be disclosed through litigation.
One of the complaints obtained by CNN described the triggering of an alarm when the temperature of the storage tank fluctuated – but no one was at the clinic to hear it.
"A remote alarm system provided by CAS [DataLoggers], which was designed to alert UH employees of the temperature fluctuation when the center was not staffed, was turned off and had been down for some time, "the complaint said.
What the hospital system has to say
The university hospitals issued a statement Thursday in response to the latest lawsuits.
"Since the March 4th demonstration, the university hospitals and their leaders have apologized and continue to give priority to their patients by offering free fertility care to the patients concerned who wish to continue to grow their families," the statement said. "We have also made significant improvements to the Fertility Center and we are adopting and strengthening a culture that encourages our doctors, nurses and employees to speak up when they see ways to further increase the quality of their lives." quality of care we provide to patients. "
The statement adds that "UH has been working with Fertility Center patients and their lawyers over the past year to negotiate a significant number of regulations and will continue to offer alternatives to patients who wish to avoid the time, expense and anxiety disputes.Out of respect for all families affected by the event and respect for the Cuyahoga County Court, where these same issues are being heard, UH will not make any further comment at the moment. "
Last year, a county court in Cuyahoga issued a restraining order or "gag order", limiting the debate on the case of university hospitals.
Families want to be heard
Two couples named as plaintiffs in these new lawsuits appeared at a press conference Thursday to share their stories and motivations.
Over the past 11 months, they have felt that the hospital system they trusted could not hear and understand their pain, they said.
"It's a loss that has been felt by the whole family, not just Matt and me," said Emily Petite, speaking alongside her husband.
She explained how their 3-year-old son "will never have a brother or sister, our parents who will never be grandparents again, our brothers and sisters who will never have the chance d & # 39; be uncles and aunts again. "
The couples feel crushed and betrayed by the experience and, for the moment, can not imagine undergoing a new in vitro fertilization – not to mention the offer of the university hospitals. It was difficult, emotionally and physically, the first time. Now the idea is even heavier.
"The IVF industry is an amazing and wonderful industry, it gave us our son.But you should not get into IVF:" Will the storage tank fail? is there any chance that I will lose our eggs and our embryos that we have stored? "said Petite. These concerns "should not be on us, it should have been on them."
That's what they want, "said Kim Bucar, another complainant who spoke Thursday. She is also looking for a kind of resolution.
"This has been very difficult," said Bucar, a native of a girl family, has two daughters and, before losing their embryos, hoped that she and her husband could someday have a son.
"It continues to stir up emotions again and again," she said. "It does not allow us to heal."
By filing these new lawsuits, their lawyers hope to get a jury trial and get redress from the plaintiffs, but also give them the opportunity to express themselves and be identified as people rather than as medical records. .
"We are bringing these lawsuits because our clients can no longer wait for UH to correct them," said lawyer Bobby DiCello. "The goal is fairness: families must be respected and recognized by UH as people and not as numbers."
Janet DiGiacomo from CNN contributed to this report.