Lawyers representing couples affected by a storage freezer malfunction at University Hospitals' fertility clinic filed eight new lawsuits Thursday.
The suits seek damages from UH and CAS DataLoggers, a company that was responsible for the alarm system involved in the freezer malfunction. The incident caused some 4,000 eggs and embryos to no longer be viable.
The alarm, which was meant to alert UH staff of rising freezer temperatures, was turned off at the time of the incident. Attorneys representing the families allege the alarm system had not been checked for nearly a year.
"Today we file these lawsuits because our clients can't wait any longer for UH to make this right for them," attorney Bobby DiCello said at a Thursday press conference. "About a year ago, [UH] executive leadership issued an apology. But nice words demand action. And these lawsuits are the first step to that action."
Some 70 lawsuits have been filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. In July, Judge Stuart Friedman issued a gag order on the plaintiffs' lawyers.
The new lawsuits were filed in federal court and Geauga County Common Pleas Court.
The statute of limitation for medical malpractice cases is one year from the date of the incident, which occured the weekend of March 3, 2018.
"They need to be held accountable so this does not happen again," plaintiff Kim Bucar said. "So lives aren’t just devastated the way they’ve been. And if this helps to make that happen, then that’s what I hope for."
University Hospitals released a statement Thursday, noting that "[UH] and its leaders have apologized and continue to put our patients first by offering free fertility care to impacted patients who would like to continue their path to growing their families. We have also made significant enhancements at the Fertility Center and we embrace and reinforce a culture that encourages our physicians, nurses, and staff to speak up when they see ways to further increase the quality of care we provide to patients."
The statement also emphasized that UH has negotiated a "significant number of settlements and will continue offering resolution alternatives to our patients who want to avoid the time, expense, and anxiety of litigation."
CAS DataLoggers did not reply to a request for comment.
The two law firms, Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane and DiCello Levitt, are currently representing around one hundred families in the fertility clinic case.