The Ohio Supreme Court in the recent case of Brickel et al v. University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center has been tasked with providing an answer to the challenging question of how much an embryo is worth. The court’s decision will be influential and comes a year after a failure at the University Hospital’s fertility clinic, which impacted 4,000 eggs and embryos that were entrusted to a facility.

How the Accident Occurred

In 2018, the University fertility clinic reported that its remote alarm system on its storage tank was turned off. While the alarm was shut off, the tank’s temperature fluctuated and all 4,000 eggs and embryos in the freezer were made nonviable. Later investigations by University Hospitals determined that the cause of the problem was either human error, mechanical malfunction, or both. 

The first problem was that the remote alarm system on the tank was turned off. The tank also failed to undergo the needed preventative measures. As a result, the tank required manual filling of liquid nitrogen, which was not adequately monitored. Shortly before the accident occurred, the hospital was getting ready to move the specimens to an extra storage tank to perform maintenance on this one due to the filling problem.

A Change in Judges

Judge Stuart Friedman oversaw the case for nine months before retirement. Friedman has commented that the case will be a landmark one. Underpinning the case, Friedman comments, is the question of what the value is of an embryo. While some people argue that an embryo is a life form, other people argue that embryos are merely a thing. 

This perspective is what frames the arguments in the case. On one side are the individuals who have lost the ability to have children as a result of this error. These individuals argue that the incident should be viewed as a type of medical malpractice.  Ohio, however, places limits on the amounts of financial compensation available. Other people have argued that the embryos are human and that this error is the equivalent of taking a human life. 

A Potentially Groundbreaking Ruling

The ruling will have a profound impact on Ohio law because determining what compensation should be awarded means that courts will be tasked with deciding the exact moment when conception occurs.

There have been previous settlements in several cases involving similar manners. The exact settlement details in these cases, however, remain confidential. As a result, the exact amount of compensation also remains in question. 

The Future of the Case

Due to the number of uncertainties involved in this case, there is a good possibility that this case will make its way to the United States Supreme Court. 

Contact a Fertility Failure Lawyer Today

While Ohio Courts have not yet determined the exact value of an embryo, most people agree that it has a substantial value. If you or a loved one has been impacted by a fertility clinic failure, give me a call today at 877.944-4373. I understand just how devastating the loss of an embryo can be. For the victims of fertility clinic failures throughout Ohio, and I’ll Make Them Pay!®


Medical Malpractice