A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed in California’s Northern District against San Francisco-based Pacific Fertility Center and Florida-headquartered Prelude Fertility in which an unidentified plaintiff alleges her frozen eggs were destroyed due to the defendants’ negligence in maintaining a cryo-storage tank that “lost liquid nitrogen for a brief period of time.” Though the defendants said a “preliminary analysis” suggested some human tissue kept in the tank—Tank No. 4—was salvageable, the plaintiff seeks to represent a proposed class of people whose eggs and embryos were destroyed during the “very unfortunate incident.”
The complaint says the plaintiff contracted with the defendants in August 2016 to have her eggs preserved. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff paid roughly $10,000 for these services, despite the individual’s insurance company covering a portion of the bill.
Though the cryo-storage tank reportedly failed on March 4, the lawsuit says Pacific Fertility emailed the plaintiff days later, on March 11, and informed her and several hundred others that stored tissue “may have been impacted” by the loss of liquid nitrogen. Though a definitive cause of the tank failure has yet to be identified, a March 12Mercury Newsreport placed blame on aleak in the tank’s seal. The cause of Tank No. 4’s failure notwithstanding, the complaint argues electronic monitoring sensors on the tank should have alerted staff much earlier to the rising temperature.
The allegations at the center of this lawsuit have gained national recognition in recent days due in part to the occurrence of a similarly unfortunate incident at Cleveland’s University Hospitals Fertility Centeron the same day, March 4.