Article includes commentary from Lieff Cabraser partner Sarah London, chair of Lieff Cabraser’s fertility practice

NBC News highlights a controversial new bill in Alabama, passed in February, aimed at safeguarding in vitro fertilization (IVF) practices. Purportedly devised to restore confidence among fertility clinics that had to suspend operations following a state Supreme Court decision, the legislation has faced backlash from legal experts due to concerns about its significant potential negative consequences. These experts also raise alarms that the new law might bar patients from being able to seek damages if their embryos are lost due to clinic negligence or equipment failure.

Incidents where embryos were compromised due to mishandled storage or faulty equipment underscore the fertility industry’s fragility, which operates with minimal regulatory oversight despite a global valuation of nearly $23 billion in 2022. The industry is mostly self-regulated, with professional organizations setting guidelines but lacking governmental oversight and control.

Commentators note that Alabama’s legislation may excessively shield fertility clinics, offering them too much immunity and insufficiently safeguarding patients, who endure not just financial but profound emotional and personal losses when embryos are destroyed.

Lieff Cabraser partner Sarah R. London, head of the firm’s fertility practice, emphasizes the importance of maintaining access to justice for affected parties. London, who successfully represented families in a 2018 lawsuit against Pacific Fertility Center after a storage tank failure resulted in the loss of approximately 3,500 frozen eggs and embryos, points out the necessity of proper regulation for IVF clinics. She notes that courts in states outside Alabama have found a balanced approach to handling these situations, treating embryos as precious and unique highly valuable property. This perspective allows for the acknowledgment of the profound loss and suffering endured by women and families who have faced tremendous challenges in their fertility journeys.

Read the full article on the NBC News website.

About Sarah London

A leader in the plaintiffs’ bar, Lieff Cabraser partner Sarah R. London is a determined, skilled, and experienced advocate for the injured, employees, and consumers. Sarah has risen to national prominence as a result of appointments to and success in leadership roles in multiple pivotal lawsuits, including in recently-filed sexual abuse litigation against Uber as well as in her role as Co-Lead & Liaison Counsel for plaintiffs in the Juul injury/predatory marketing MDL, where her work led to four historic settlements announced in late 2022 with defendant Juul as well as a comprehensive and historic $235 million settlement that was reached between additional defendant Altria and plaintiffs in the midst of a subsequent JUUL bellwether trial. In 2020, Sarah was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the Gilead HIV Drug Kidney & Bone Injuries Litigation, and in 2019, Sarah was named Subclass Settlement Counsel in In re Flint Water Cases. Sarah also serves in lead roles in multiple women’s health cases, including as Liaison Counsel in the state court coordinated proceedings involving the destruction of hundreds of frozen eggs and embryos at San Francisco’s Pacific Fertility Center.

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