40 Couples Sue for Destruction of Sperm
CHICAGO (CN) - Northwestern Memorial Hospital negligently destroyed frozen sperm samples, costing dozens of men and women their chance ever to have children, John Doe 1-40 and many Jane Does claim in separate lawsuits.
All the John Does say they have medical conditions that threaten their fertility. The Does sued Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation for negligence, in Cook County Court.
"Most of the plaintiffs have suffered illness or were undergoing medical treatment that would likely render them infertile," the Does' attorney Matthew T. Jenkins said in a statement. "Freezing their sperm was the only real hope they had for ever having biological children."
In a statement on the website of Jenkins' firm Corboy & Demetrio, the attorney said: "Three of the plaintiffs were minors at the time, the youngest was just 14 years old with a rare form of cancer. Other plaintiffs include a 33-year-old man who has leukemia and was told that his radical chemotherapy treatments would likely make him infertile; a 26-year-old man who suffers from an illness that could render him infertile; and a 48-year-old man who had his sperm preserved because he too suffers from an illness that could render him infertile."
John and Jane Doe No. 29 claim in their lawsuit: "In and before April 2012, NW owned, operated, managed, maintained, and controlled an operation for cryopreservation and storage of semen/testicular tissue specimens in cryogenic preservation tanks.
"At same time and place, John Doe No. 29 had semen/testicular tissue specimens stored with NW with the plan of becoming a parent in the future through assisted reproductive techniques.
"In April 2012, the cryopreservation and storage procedure at NW failed, causing the loss of and/or damage to semen/testicular tissue specimens stored with NW, including that of John Doe No. 29."
The Does claim the hospital "failed to adequately respond when it knew, or should have known, that its cryopreservation and storage system failed," and "placed all of John Does No. 29's specimens in one cryogenic preservation tank, when it had numerous additional tanks within which his specimens could be stored."
A Cook County judge has granted an emergency bill of discovery ordering Northwestern to turn over documents relating to the cryopreservation system, and permitting experts to inspect the storage facility, Jenkins said.
The 40 lawsuits, all filed Tuesday, are based on evidence uncovered by this discovery.
The Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation acknowledged that its cryogenic storage tank "malfunctioned," and that a round-the-clock alarm system failed to alert employees of the failure, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
"We deeply regret that this occurred, and understand how upsetting this can be to our patients," the foundation said in the statement.