Jeffrey N. Catalano was quoted in the Providence Journal concerning his client's personal injury lawsuit against Women & Infant's Hospital for a 13-year delay in disclosing it had stored a frozen embryo of the woman.
Mr. Catalano's client first learned in August 2017 that the hospital's fertility clinic had preserved her embryo in storage since 2004, the year she underwent in vitro fertilization treatment with her husband.
The women's lawsuit in federal district court in Massachusetts asserts the hospital was negligent in failing to disclose it stored the embryo when, at the time of the in vitro treatments, she and her husband were told by a physician that this and other embryos were abnormal and shouldn't be implanted in her uterus. The woman and her husband at the time assumed the embryos would be discarded.
The hospital never asked the woman and her husband to sign a consent form indicating each partner's wishes on what to do with the embryo in the event of divorce or death. The woman's husband died unexpectedly in 2006 of a heart attack, and she has since remarried. Absent the consent form, the hospital is powerless to do anything with the embryo.
The lawsuit is seeking damages for the significant emotional distress suffered by the woman.
"We don't want this to happen to anybody else, because we're dealing with a human life form; we're not dealing with furniture that's kept in storage many years," Mr. Catalano told the publication. "These fertility clinics have to be extremely careful with this extremely delicate life form that they are handling and storing. That's really what I think the goal of this lawsuit is, to send that message."
Mr. Catalano, a partner at Todd & Weld, represents victims of catastrophic personal injuries, including cases involving medical negligence.