A federal jury awarded nearly $15 Million to five individuals who lost eggs or embryos due to a cryogenic storage tank failure at a fertility clinic in San Francisco.
Three woman who lost their eggs and a married couple who lost embryos in relation to the lawsuit will receive more than $14 million in damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress experienced.
The five individuals are the first to have their case go to a jury, but hundreds of others have also sued the Pacific Fertility Center and Chart Industries Inc., the company responsible for making the cryogenic tank which failed to properly store the specimens.
“It’s really painful to be at a baby shower celebrating someone else’s family being built and knowing inside you’ll never get that,” said Chloe Poynton, 39, who lost nine eggs in the incident. “So you start to pull back. You start to isolate.”
A similar incident occurred in a Cleveland suburb on the same day as in San Francisco, with more than 4,000 eggs and embryos ruined, leading to the biggest losses in the U.S. and a call for centers across the nation to review their procedures.
A lawyer for Chart blamed the fertility center for the tank failure during closing arguments of the trial held in San Francisco, ABC News reports.
However, jurors ruled that the tank had been misused or improperly modified and that a manufacturing defect was responsible for the tank failure.
The jury ruled Chart was 90% responsible and neglected to recall the malfunctioning part, a controller that monitored liquid nitrogen levels, which was a "substantial factor" in causing the incident.
Pacific Fertility was ruled to be 10% responsible for harm due to its own negligence.
The three women were each awarded about $2 million to $3 million, while the couple is set to receive $7.2 million.