University Hospitals seeks gag order in fertility clinic lawsuit

Officials from Cleveland-based University Hospitals are asking a judge for a gag order against the attorneys representing the families and patients suing the hospital over the loss of their frozen eggs and embryos this year, according to a WKYC news report.

The defendants are hoping to bar attorneys on both sides of the case from making public statements. According to the motion filed in court July 16, hospital attorneys believe the plaintiffs' attorneys have been making "inflammatory" comments to the media to prevent jurors from making an unbiased decision.

"The inflammatory media statements of some counsel have been clearly designed to taint public opinion and undermine the ability of potential jurors to reach an unbiased verdict based on the evidence presented at trial," the motion states, according to WKYC.

A freezer system failure in March at University Hospitals' fertility clinic resulted in the loss of 4,000 eggs and embryos, which affected nearly 1,000 patients.

Since March, more than 50 lawsuits involving the families of affected patients have been filed over the incident. In April, the lawsuits were consolidated, paving the way for a class-action lawsuit.

"We have asked the court to consider an order that would ensure this important matter will be addressed in the legal process, not through attorneys' comments to the news media. If the judge approves, the order would prohibit any comments to news media from attorneys working on this matter," a University Hospitals statement reads.

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