Family whose embryos are no longer viable files lawsuit against UH: 'It's a tremendous loss'

The first class action lawsuit has been filed against University Hospitals following a refrigerator malfunction that ...

Posted: Mar 14, 2018 2:49 PM
Updated: Mar 14, 2018 2:49 PM

The first class action lawsuit has been filed against University Hospitals following a refrigerator malfunction that has left the viability of 2,000 eggs and embryos in question.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Robert DiCello of DiCello, Levitt & Casey, is on behalf of Amber and Elliott Ash, who had two embryos stored with UH.

The couple received notification of the failure on Friday and over the weekend, were told by physicians that their embryos are no longer viable.

"It's heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking," Amber Ash said. "The medical community calls it tissue, I like to think of it as my children. My frozen children."

The Ash family welcomed Ethan, now 2-years-old, into their lives through in-vitro fertilization, or IVF, at UH.

Elliott was diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2003, and at age 23, decided to bank his sperm before they were destroyed by chemotherapy. The couple have had their embryos stored at UH since 2014, paying about $400 a year for the service.

They had hoped to give Ethan a genetic sibling.

"You put so much faith into the physicians and the medical team, and like I said, to have this taken away - your hopes and dreams destroyed. It's a tremendous loss," Amber said.

The hope and ultimate goal with the lawsuit, the family said, is to make sure another family doesn't feel the same loss ever again.

"I find it very hard to believe that in this day and age, there are not better safeguard and practices that could be put in place," Amber added.

DiCello said he is in talks with other patients to add them to the class-action complaint.

"I just urge everyone, before you judge what they've gone through, or what they're going through, or what their motives for doing it, ask yourselves, 'What would it be like if I had my family's treasure lost by a hospital that just didn't care enough to check on it?'" DiCello said.

The Ash family said they still have many unanswered questions regarding the failure, even after speaking with two physicians. UH has not clarified if it was a mechanical or human error at this point. The malfunction occurred sometime between the overnight hours of Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4.

Other attorneys in the Greater Cleveland area have also told News 5 they will be filing lawsuits for individual clients on Monday.

"What is most disturbing to me is that everyone I talked to has been informed by UH that their embryos are not viable, they've been destroyed, different from what has been out there publicly which has been that they've been compromised, we don't know. I think this problem is far more serious than has been presented so far," said Team LGM attorney Tom Merriman.

"Our intent is to file a lawsuit on behalf of a large group of women and couples who have lost their embryos. We intend to do that within the next couple of days, " he said.

In a statement regarding the lawsuits, UH officials told News 5 the following:

"We understand why some people might feel compelled to take this step. Any lawsuits being filed will have no bearing on the independent review being conducted or our determination to help patients who have suffered this loss."

West Lafayette
Few Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 95°
Kokomo
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 91°
Rensselaer
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 90°
Fowler
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 90°
Williamsport
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 94°
Crawfordsville
Broken Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 93°
Frankfort
Scattered Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 97°
Delphi
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
Monticello
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 91°
Logansport
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 92°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 47432

Reported Deaths: 2687
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11546683
Lake5104242
Elkhart321144
Allen2737129
St. Joseph190866
Cass16389
Hamilton1538100
Hendricks1390100
Johnson1256118
Porter72037
Tippecanoe6948
Madison65564
Clark64044
Bartholomew58244
Howard56557
LaPorte56326
Kosciusko5354
Vanderburgh5026
Marshall4823
Jackson4693
Noble46928
LaGrange4677
Hancock44035
Boone43743
Delaware43150
Shelby42325
Floyd37144
Morgan32731
Montgomery29320
Grant29126
Clinton2882
Monroe27628
Dubois2666
White26010
Henry25815
Decatur24932
Lawrence24225
Vigo2318
Dearborn22823
Harrison21222
Warrick21229
Greene18532
Miami1822
Jennings17411
Putnam1688
DeKalb1604
Scott1607
Daviess14216
Orange13623
Wayne1366
Steuben1282
Perry1279
Franklin1248
Ripley1157
Jasper1142
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette987
Newton9810
Starke923
Whitley905
Randolph784
Huntington742
Jefferson722
Wells711
Fulton691
Jay680
Washington681
Gibson672
Knox640
Pulaski641
Clay604
Rush563
Adams501
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Posey380
Blackford372
Spencer371
Crawford300
Fountain302
Tipton301
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike100
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events