University Hospitals Denies Liability After Freezer Failure Destroys 4,000 Eggs and Embryos

The lawsuits filed against University Hospitals regarding the loss of approximately 4,000 eggs and embryos, after a cryopreservation system failure at the Ahuja Medical Center back in March, have begun and the first bout of documents show University Hospitals have denied liability. Documents filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, reveal hospital attorneys said families signed consent forms that detailed the risks involved with the frozen specimens.

According to the documents filed Friday and made public on Monday, "Plaintiffs were fully advised of the material risks, benefits and alternatives available for treatment, and thereafter voluntarily assumed and consented to those risks."

The aforementioned document offers insight of the hospital's defense to more than 50 lawsuits pending before Judge Stuart Friedman. He is expected to review the documents as attorneys exchange filings, which will likely take months.

The hospital also stated in the documents that the freezer failure "may have been caused by the operation of nature or by an idiosyncratic reaction and were not due to or caused by any alleged fault, lack of care, negligence, or breach of duty by Defendants."

Meaning, this was a freak accident and not as a result of human error.

With the exception of those dealing with cancer, most health insurance companies view fertility treatments as an elective procedure and do not cover the costs. Meaning, people with the ability to produce eggs may pay tens of thousands of dollars in an attempt to conceive. Additionally, there are fees — hundreds or thousands of dollars each year — to store these frozen eggs and embryos until a patient is ready for them to be used.

Those impacted by the freezer failure rightfully want there to be some accountability for the loss of these eggs and embryos, but whether or not University Hospitals will be found guilty or responsible won't be for several months, if not longer.