Suits: Clinic Destroyed Embryos, Implanted Them Anyway

Ovation Fertility cut corners, tried to trick couples into signing away claims, they allege
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2024 2:41 PM CDT
11 Couples Say Clinic 'Killed' Embryos, Then Implanted Them
A lab technician views a fertilized egg under a microscope.   (Getty Images/kzenon)

Eleven couples say a California fertility clinic destroyed their embryos but went ahead and implanted them anyway, according to a new lawsuit—the second of at least eight expected to be filed in the case, per the Guardian. Two couples sued Ovation Fertility in Newport Beach last week, alleging their embryos were destroyed when a lab employee used hydrogen peroxide in an incubator instead of a sterile solution. On Tuesday, nine more couples sued the in vitro fertilization provider, alleging the same thing. The nine women had high-grade embryos implanted between Jan. 18 and Jan. 30. The success rate with embryos of this type is typically 80%, per the Los Angeles Times. In these cases, it was 0%, according to the joint lawsuit.

The suit claims couples blamed themselves for weeks until late February and early March, when the clinic finally admitted something went wrong. The clinic allegedly blamed "temperature levels, pH levels, carbon dioxide and other gas levels, and incubator equipment failure," per ABC News. The plaintiffs instead believe the clinic "recklessly and wrongfully ... exposed these embryos to lethal amounts of hydrogen peroxide (or some other caustic agent), which killed them," according to the suit. The plaintiffs, who are seeking unspecified damages and a jury trial, claim Ovation tried to conceal the error by attempting to "trick" them into waiving their claims in exchange for reimbursement of $6,000 in lab and clinic fees.

Tennessee-based Ovation Fertility says "this was an isolated incident related to an unintended laboratory technician error." It adds that "we did not knowingly transfer nonviable embryos for implantation" but investigated "as soon as we recognized that pregnancy numbers were lower than our usually high success rates." But the plaintiffs say the clinic hired unqualified and inexperienced staff to maximize profits and knew of prior mistakes that led to the loss of embryos. "They need to fix this," 37-year-old plaintiff Brooke Berger tells ABC. "And if we don't put pressure on them to do this, I don't think anyone else will." Some of the couples say they have no more viable embryos left as a result, per ABC. (More lawsuit stories.)

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