Pot Calling the Kettle Black? Irony Seen in UH’s Objection to Public Statements to the Press by Lawyers of Embryo Loss Victims … While UH Has Apologized for the Loss of 4,000 Embryos and Publicly Stated, “I Think UH is Responsible for This,” It Denies All Liability for Losses Behind Closed Courtroom Doors.
CLEVELAND, OH – July 17, 2018 – Cleveland law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane (PWCK), which is nationally recognized for its handling of major cases involving embryo loss and related cryogenic issues, stated today that University Hospitals (UH) is attempting to use a gag-order request to keep victims and the news media in the dark about the full extent of the disaster that caused a 4,000-embryo loss at University Hospitals Fertility Clinic (UHFC). For details on the lawsuit filed by PWCK, go to https://www.uhembryolawsuit.com/.
PWCK also expressed concern that UH’s attempt to muzzle victims’ advocates and limit the ability of the news media to report on the UHFC crisis may have an ulterior motive: facilitating UH’s strategy of publicly acknowledging that it “failed” prospective parents in the embryo losses, while completely denying all liability and responsibility for this tragedy behind closed courtroom doors.
It also is possible that UH is attempting to cut off the flow of information to individuals who have not yet sought representation by PWCK to join its proceeding or those put forward by other firms. Since the news media have been instrumental to informing the public, the censoring of attorneys could have the effect of fewer victims seeking representation to protect themselves.
Speaking on behalf of PWCK, Cleveland attorney Lydia Floyd said: “First and foremost, our priority should be on seeing to the needs of University Hospitals’ many victims in this case and ensuring that they are properly informed about what is going on and their recourse options. PWCK encourages UH to be as transparent as possible. A gag order is, by definition, the very opposite of transparency. UH has done better in the past in this matter and it needs to stick to its public message of owning up to what it has done and now making things right.”
Joseph Peiffer, managing shareholder of PWCK, added: “A gag order imposed on counsel in this case is also an attack on the families that need information about UH’s conduct. This request is a transparent attempt to backtrack from UH’s prior public acceptance of responsibility. UH wants to have its cake and eat it too. Its playbook seems to be: Publicly accept responsibility for the disaster then shirk that responsibility behind the courtroom doors and stop any attorneys from taking UH to task. By limiting information about its responsibility, UH hopes that families victimized by their behavior are cut off from crucial information about claims that they may have arisen out of the UH tragedy.”
On March 12, 2018, PWCK filed a lawsuit in the names of a Pennsylvania couple and on behalf of the victims of University Hospitals Health System, Inc., University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, Inc., University Hospitals Medical Group, Inc., and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, all of Ohio.
UHFC has admitted that it “failed” in its handling of the embryo losses. In addition to initially misreporting the estimated number of lost embryos and eggs at 2,000, UHFC followed up with a more accurate number of 4,000 weeks later. Since then, UHFC has disclosed additional information on what actually happened at the lab, including that the tank needed preventative maintenance, that it was manually filling the malfunctioning tank from the top, that the embryology lab ran out of liquid nitrogen, and that the remote alarm on the affected tank, which was designed to alert UHFC staff to temperature fluctuations, was turned off.
Couples and individuals that entrust their eggs/embryos for storage do so often after exhausting other avenues and attempts at having a child. In some cases, individuals and couples store eggs at an early age in anticipation of starting a family later in life. In still other cases, families with modest means will go deeply into debt in order to finance in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures (which often must be repeated) and to pay for short- or long-term egg/embryo storage. For many older individuals and couples, a stored egg or embryo may be their only hope for giving birth with lower risks of serious complications.
PWCK is representing many couples and individual clients of UHFC and is pursuing a lawsuit against UHFC. PWCK also has filed a lawsuit in connection with the embryo destruction at Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco. Both the UHFC and Pacific tragedies took place within days of each other in March of this year.
PWCK has handled multiple cases in which fertility clinics were accused of either destroying or losing eggs and embryos. This is a highly technical area of law and science and, individuals seeking legal representation in the UHFC matter would be well advised to look to a law firm that has successfully handled such cases in the past.
The law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane maintains offices in Cleveland, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and New Orleans. PWCK is available on the web at https://www.uhembryolawsuit.com/.
MEDIA CONTACT: Alex Frank, (216) 410-5978 or [email protected].