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California fertility clinic in legal hot water over freezer issue

Pacific Fertility Clinic, located in San Francisco, experienced an equipment malfunction that put hundreds of embryos in jeopardy. Allegedly, liquid nitrogen levels in a tank storing the embryos dropped below the required levels.

The second lawsuit to be filed from the tank damages, a putative class action suit, was announced this past Thursday. The first, a similar suit, was filed on Tuesday. The second suit was filed by a California couple seeking more than $5 million for Pacific Fertility Clinic customers. The couple claims the tank failure destroyed their embryos.

According to the suit, patients of the clinic were notified by email that their embryos might have been compromised when liquid nitrogen levels in the storage tank dropped "below necessary levels." The suit is requesting compensation for medical procedure costs, embryo storage costs and emotional damages.

The suit alleges emotional distress and grief from loss of what might have been their future children and the anguish of possibly having to go through the process again. For those who can't afford it, it may have been their only chance to have a child.

The president of Pacific Fertility expressed his condolences and concern for the patients to ABC news regarding the "unfortunate incident." According to an attorney for the plaintiff, it is a "nightmare scenario."

These lawsuits, and possibly any future ones filed, will probably not end any time soon. Business litigation cases can be lengthy and convoluted, especially when it involves a class action. Even small businesses sometimes touch the lives of enough customers that they could find themselves in a class action suit.

Having a good attorney involved in your business from the very beginning to provide options and advice for risk assessment needs may be a saving grace as your business expands. With checks and balances, as well as safety backups in place, accidents are less likely to result in serious damages that could cost your business or your livelihood.

Source: ABC News, "Second lawsuit filed against fertility clinic with freezer tank malfunction," March 16, 2018

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