On May 30th, 2018, Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel filed an Amended Complaint in the federal class action lawsuit against Pacific Fertility Center brought on behalf of eight individual plaintiffs for the Center’s March 4, 2018 destruction of or serious threat to hundreds of cryogenically preserved eggs and embryos stored at its facility in San Francisco that occurred as a result of liquid nitrogen depletion in one of its storage tanks.
Pacific Fertility Center has admitted that embryos and eggs may have been destroyed when Tank 4 failed. As noted in the amended complaint, one month after the tank failure incident, in April 2018, Chart Industries, the manufacturer of the tank, issued a recall of several cryopreservation tanks citing reports of issues with “vacuum leak.”
The amended class action complaint brings the total of enumerated causes of actions to thirteen, expanding the bases of the lawsuit to include negligence, breach of contract, premises liability, breach of fiduciary duty, deceit, fraudulent concealment, and strict products liability, among other charges, on behalf of the designated plaintiffs and the putative class of all other similarly situated women and families who had stored eggs and embryos at PFC.
Lieff Cabraser Named Interim Co-Lead Class Counsel in Pacific Fertility Clinic Egg & Embryo Preservation Failures Lawsuit
On May 15, 2018, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the U.S. District Court for the Ninth Circuit named Lieff Cabraser Interim Co-Lead Class Counsel in the consolidated proposed class action lawsuits charging Pacific Fertility Clinic with breach of contract and negligence relating to the destruction of stored eggs and embryos in the wake of cryogenic storage tank failures in early March 2018. Earlier, on May 1st, Judge Corley had consolidated the three separately filed class action cases including cases filed by Lieff Cabraser on April 17, 2018 on behalf of women who stored their frozen eggs and embryos in the malfunctioning equipment at Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco.
Background on the Case
On March 11, 2018, the Pacific Fertility Clinic in San Francisco announced that it had experienced a liquid nitrogen failure leading to the destruction of thousands of frozen eggs and embryos that had been preserved for future use by hundreds of women. The incident, which occurred on March 4th, comes close on the heels of a similar malfunction at a different fertility clinic in Cleveland that reportedly destroyed hundreds of previously frozen and preserved eggs and embryos.
On March 28, 2018, the Cleveland clinic revealed that the egg and embryo loss was much worse than initially stated, and in fact destroyed 4,000 stored eggs and embryos. The clinic’s alarm system was apparently switched off at University Hospitals in Ohio, and officials there admitted they did not know how long the remote alarm had been turned off. NBC news reported that the storage tank manufacturer “has a 15-year history of equipment failures.”
A spokesman at the San Francisco clinic noted that the several thousand affected eggs and embryos reflected as much as 15 percent of the facility’s total. The earlier tank failure in Cleveland is thought to have affected the eggs or embryos of approximately 700 women. While the number of women freezing their eggs has soared in recent years, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine stated that such large-scale fertility clinic failures appear to be unprecedented.