Fight Over Embryos Settled Out of Court

ST. LOUIS – Two couples battling over a pair of frozen embryos have settled out of court, days before a scheduled mediation in Santa Barbara, Calif. “The settlement provides that the disposition of the embryos will be in accordance with the original intent of the parties, with the hope that the child or children born from the embryos will be raised with other siblings of the embryos,” one couple’s attorney said.

     Jennifer and William McLaughlin, of Kirkwood, Mo., and Edward and Kerry Lambert, of California, traded lawsuits in two states in April over custody of the embryos. The couples agreed on Monday to stay their cases and enter into mediation.
     Albert Watkins, attorney for the McLaughlins, refused to elaborate on his statement about the disposition of the embryos, citing confidentiality issues.
     Both couples say they believe the frozen embryos are living humans.
     The Lamberts, who created the embryos, signed a contract in February 2009, granting the McLaughlins four frozen embryos.
     The Lamberts claim the McLaughlins breached the contract by not returning the unused embryos after the McLaughlins gave birth to twins with the first two.
     The Lamberts’ complaint, filed in Alameda County Court, stated that they did not want the remaining embryos implanted in Jen McLaughlin because she violated the contract, and because of her “recent behavior in connection with the two embryos.”
     The McLaughlin lawsuit, filed in St. Louis County Court, stated that the McLaughlins’ interests in “her unborn children” and the embryos’ interest in their siblings “is of such uniqueness” as to give the McLaughlins legal right to the embryos.

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