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University Hospitals files motion to drop fertility clinic lawsuits

CLEVELAND-- An emotional blow this Mother’s Day weekend for couples who lost eggs and embryos during a malfunction at the University Hospitals fertility clinic. Lawyers for the hospital have filed a motion in court to have the first of many lawsuits filed against UH dismissed.

"This is such cynical, despicable conduct by this hospital; they should be ashamed," said attorney Tom Merriman.

Merriman says he received the motion late Friday afternoon. Lawyers for University Hospitals are asking a judge to dismiss the first two of nearly four dozen lawsuits filed against it.

The lawsuits were filed after a catastrophic failure in a storage tank destroyed 4,000 embryos at the hospital's fertility clinic in March.

"And they did it just before Mother's Day. Think about that message to people. You wanted to be a mother; we feel so bad about that, but you don't have a lawsuit because we think you have to file this kind of lawsuit," said Merriman.

University Hospitals says it continues to offer clinical and emotional support to affected patients.

In a statement, hospital officials said:

"When a lawsuit is filed, Ohio law requires that all medical claims be accompanied by an affidavit of merit. In this matter, the plaintiffs` attorneys did not file the necessary documentation. So we have asked the court to dismiss the claims that were not properly supported when filed - in keeping with Ohio law."

"UH hasn't turned over any records; they haven't answered any discovery. How do you go out and find an expert who can provide an affidavit of merit that says they fell below the standard of care? They won't even tell us who was responsible in the lab for this tragedy," Merriman said.

"I can't say it any more plainly: We failed our fertility clinic patients. We are sorry; I am sorry," University Hospitals CEO Thomas Zenty said in a videotaped apology in March.

"They put out a video where he apologizes, takes responsibility. They put Dr. Liu on camera to apologize, take responsibility. They send letters; it's all garbage," said Merriman.

Merriman’s law firm, Landskroner, Grieco and Merriman, represents about 180 clients affected by the situation. He says although the current motions only affect two cases, he expects the hospital will file similar motions in all 45 lawsuits filed against it, if lawyers have not already done so.

Saturday, in Middleburg Heights, there will be a memorial service for the 950 families whose embryos and eggs were destroyed.

Continuing coverage of this story here