Patients settle with maker of freezer tank that failed at San Francisco fertility clinic

When a freezer tank at the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco malfunctioned in 2018, around 4,000 embryos and eggs inside were destroyed. Patients affected by the failure have now settled out of court with Chart, the manufacturer of the freezer tank for an undisclosed amount, The Washington Post reported March 15. 

The tank was supposed to preserve the embryos and eggs at around 200 degrees below zero Celsius, but the contents inside thawed and were damaged after the malfunction — marking the event as one of the largest failures among fertility clinics in U.S. history. 

In a federal court trial, Chart was found responsible for 90 percent of the damage while the fertility center was only deemed liable for 10 percent. It was likely the first verdict "to assign a value to embryos and eggs, and award damages in a public legal proceeding," The Washington Post reported. As part of the initial verdict in 2021, $15 million was awarded to three women and one married couple. The company then appealed and was set to begin oral arguments March 30. 

Payments from the settlement have not yet been made, but the settlement is final, attorneys for Chart told the Post. The number of patients involved in the settlement was also not disclosed.

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