LOS ANGELES (CN) – A married couple claims a fertility clinic lost their embryos, which were “most likely” implanted into another woman’s uterus.
Alex Walterspiel and Melanie Waters sued Dr. John Jain individually and as president of Santa Monica Fertility, which they also sued, in Superior Court.
The couple says they hired the defendants to “take custody of, care for, and cryo-preserve” their embryos.
“Defendants promised that they would create embryos using sperm provided by plaintiff Waterspiel, and eggs retrieved from the ovaries of plaintiff Waters, transfer 1-2 fresh embryos into the uterus of plaintiff Walters once they had become blastocysts, and freeze the remaining blastocysts and embryos for the couple’s future use,” the complaint states.
The couple claims the defendants took nine eggs from Waters’ ovaries in late 2008, five of which were “fertilized and monitored by laboratory technicians for a period of four days in order for the cells to divide and the embryos to become blastocysts.”
Two of the five blastocysts were placed in Waters’ uterus; the other three were put into special “straws” and frozen for future use, according to the complaint.
“Plaintiffs are informed and believe and thereupon allege that on or about January 6, 2011 they contacted defendants seeking to make an appointment to have their remaining three embryos thawed and transferred into plaintiff Waters in an effort to again become pregnant. Shortly thereafter plaintiffs were informed by defendants that their embryos were accidentally destroyed,” the complaint states.
Walterspiel and Waters say that when they and their attorney “began pressing for more specific answers,” the “defendants’ story then changed,” and they were told that the embryos had been lost.
“Plaintiffs were also told by defendants that the other Cryo-tanks could not be searched to determine whether or not their straws were there, without jeopardizing the integrity of other patients’ embryos, and that no further search would be conducted,” the complaint states.
The couple claims that Jain and the clinic covered up “the most likely explanation, which is that the straws containing plaintiffs’ frozen blastocysts/embryos were mislabeled and later implanted into the uterus of a third person for the purpose of achieving a pregnancy of behalf of other patients treating with defendants. The unintended consequence being that not only are plaintiffs denied their property and the opportunity to have [a] child biologically related to them, but that there is a distinct possibility that an unknown third party patient(s) of defendants is unknowingly raising plaintiffs’ biological child, and that they too have been denied their property and the opportunity to have a child biologically related to them,” the complaint states.
Walterspiel and Waters seek at least $500,000, plus punitive damages, for professional negligence, breach of contract, emotional distress and fraud.
They are represented by Andrew Vorzimer with Vorzimer Masserman of Woodland Hills.