Failed sperm bank draws 40 lawsuits

Aug. 20, 2013 at 3:32 PM
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CHICAGO, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- A malfunction at a Chicago sperm bank that destroyed frozen samples has prompted 40 lawsuits against a hospital, court records say.

The negligence suits were filed against Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the owner of the facility that malfunctioned, and the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, which maintained the sperm bank, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The foundation said earlier a cryogenic tank used to store sperm malfunctioned during an April weekend but an alarm system failed to notify technicians until the next Monday.

The Tribune said the suits allege the cryo-preservation and storage at Northwestern failed and Northwestern failed to adequately monitor and respond.

The suits also allege Northwestern was negligent in putting all samples into one tank when it had "numerous additional tanks" available.

"Most of the plaintiffs have suffered serious illness or were undergoing medical treatment that would likely render them infertile," attorney Matthew T. Jenkins told the newspaper. "Freezing their sperm was the only real hope they had for ever having biological children."

He said three of the plaintiffs were minors, the youngest 14 years old with a rare form of cancer.

The newspaper said other plaintiffs include a 33-year-old man with leukemia who was told his radical chemotherapy treatments probably would make him infertile, a 26-year-old with a genetic disorder that could make him infertile and a 48-year-old who suffers from an illness that could render him infertile.

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