More than 150 families have settled lawsuits against University Hospitals after 4,000 eggs and embryos were lost as a result of a freezer malfunction at a Cleveland fertility clinic last year. The malfunction destroyed the embryos and eggs of more than 900 families. The lawsuits alleged that the hospital knew before the malfunction that the tank had problems. The freezer was primarily used for families storing embryos for the in vitro fertilization process. Without insurance, a typical round of in vitro fertilization costs about $12,000, but some families said they spent as much as $20,000.
The settlement amounts have not been made public by the hospital or families. The average national payment over a 10-year period for medical malpractice cases involving embryos was $200,000, according to a 2017 report from the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Seventy-nine lawsuits related to the malfunction were reportedly filed against the hospital. Sixty-six have been settled so far, the remaining are still pending, according to court dockets and Common Pleas Judge Ashley Kilbane, who is handling the litigation.