A lawsuit alleges that a California fertility clinic implanted deceased embryos into patients

Nine additional couples have filed lawsuits against a Newport Beach fertility clinic, alleging that their embryos were destroyed when an employee mistakenly used hydrogen peroxide in an incubator instead of a sterile solution. These couples join two others who filed lawsuits against Ovation Fertility last week, one of which claimed the loss of two embryos due to the company’s negligence, while the other lost one. The new lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court on behalf of the nine couples, accuses Ovation Fertility of negligence, medical battery, concealment, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligent hiring, retention and supervision, and loss of consortium. It seeks unspecified damages.

The lawsuit alleges that an employee at the clinic destroyed the embryos by using hydrogen peroxide instead of distilled water in an incubator during the thawing process. These embryos were then implanted into several patients between Jan. 18 and Jan. 30, none of whom became pregnant. The complaint states that the couples initially blamed themselves and underwent painful medical procedures before learning of the lab error in late February and early March. Ovation Fertility operates 14 locations in 10 states, with the Newport Beach lab being its only one in California.

While most of the couples involved in the lawsuit against Ovation Fertility were not named or were identified by their initials, Brooke Berger and Bennett Hardy from Fullerton are publicly speaking out against the company. They claim that Ovation Fertility destroyed their last two embryos, leading to devastating physical and emotional consequences. Berger expressed her frustration during a press conference announcing the lawsuit, stating that they want Ovation to be held accountable for these preventable errors to prevent similar incidents from occurring to other couples.

Berger and Hardy, who have no children due to fertility issues, had two viable embryos under Ovation’s care, both of which were destroyed in the lab and implanted on Jan. 25. Following this incident, they have no remaining embryos at the clinic and are considering their options for future attempts with a different clinic. Berger explained that they started their IVF journey in 2022, which included a previous unsuccessful attempt that resulted in an ectopic pregnancy and the loss of a fallopian tube.

The couple emphasized the emotional toll of the IVF process, noting that it takes months to reach the point of implantation. Despite the procedure’s relatively high success rate, they were devastated by the loss of their embryos. Benjamin Ikuta, another attorney representing the plaintiffs, believes that upwards of 80 couples could have been affected by the incident.

The lawsuit alleges that Ovation only disclosed the mishap after several fertility doctors questioned the 100% failure rate for thawed embryos over a two-week period. The couple’s primary physician received conflicting explanations from Ovation regarding the incident. Berger stressed that they are primarily seeking answers and transparency from Ovation regarding the fate of their embryos.

Additionally, the lawsuit accuses Ovation of attempting to minimize the incident by offering patients waivers and non-disparagement agreements in exchange for a refund of lab fees. The company is also accused of hiring inexperienced and unqualified employees to handle embryos in the incubators.

In response, Ovation Fertility stated that the incident was an isolated error related to a laboratory technician’s mistake and that the company has protocols in place to protect the health and integrity of embryos. They claim to have been in close contact with the affected patients since the issue was discovered.

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