March 14 (UPI) -- A class action lawsuit was filed against a San Francisco fertility clinic this week after thousands of eggs and embryos were destroyed due to a malfunctioning freezer.
On March 11, the Pacific Fertility Clinic sent an email to one of its customers informing them of "a very unfortunate incident" in which a cryo-storage tank containing her frozen eggs "lost liquid nitrogen for a brief period of time," attorneys said in the lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California.
The customer, whose name was not released for privacy reasons, soon learned that her eggs were destroyed. She had them stored at Pacific Fertility since 2016 and paid more than $10,000.
In her lawsuit, she alleges that Pacific Fertility Clinic broke the law when it failed to "adequately maintain, inspect, monitor and/or test its liquid nitrogen storage tanks in accordance with industry standards," leading to the loss of eggs and embryos, attorneys said in a statement.
"Pacific Fertility Center was entrusted to preserve and safeguard these eggs and embryos, and it failed," said attorney Matthew Schelkopf. "The company must be held accountable for the harm and anxiety it has needlessly caused patients and their families."
The lawsuit says that one cycle of egg freezing at Pacific Fertility costs $8,345, in addition to a host of other fees, including lab work and medications. Additional years for storage cost $600.
More than 400 people could have been affected by the malfunctioning freezers, with damages potentially exceeding $5 million.
"The value of the eggs and embryos that Plaintiff and other class members entrusted to Defendants -- and for which Defendants accepted legal responsibility to store, preserve, and protect -- is substantial," the complaint states. "For some families, these fertility services provide their only opportunity to conceive a child."
Pacific Fertility said it has "hired independent experts and launched an in-depth investigation of the matter."