MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, O.H. – There is a new stone bench at Woodvale Union Cemetery in Middleburg Heights. It sits under the shade of a big tree. The bench is a unique tribute for a cemetery, because it seeks to remember lives that were never lived.
Kate and Jeremy Plants are one of the couples impacted by the University Hospitals Fertility Clinic failure in March. The young couple lost five embryos they had stored at the hospital for future use. The embryos were their only chance at having biological children after Kate was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
The bench at Woodvale is there for the more than 2,000 people like the Plants who are grieving the loss of their eggs and embryos too.
“Coming and looking at a stone and remembering a name or that person’s life and that time period and I think that’s important for grieving,” she explained.
The Plants took the lead, along with help from the cemetery and Middleburg Heights, to create a place for families to grieve.
“We didn’t get to know them, so there is pain in that just never being able to say hello or hold our would-be children. There’s really no words for that. It’s such a dramatic loss,” said Plants’ husband, Jeremy.
Other couples like them also came to the cemetery Saturday to mourn their loss at a memorial service. Some of the couples have filed lawsuits against the hospital and just got news from the courts.
“The day before the memorial service they file a motion to dismiss, to kick out the cases,” said Attorney Tom Merriman who is representing the Plants.
Merriman is talking about the hospital. There are currently 45 cases against them, all seeking damages and compensation. Friday UH filed a motion to dismiss the first two cases because they did not have an affidavit showing proof the hospital did something wrong.
“This was their opportunity to answer the lawsuit and explain what happened and instead they reached for a legal maneuver to dismiss the lawsuits, that’s not taking responsibility,” Merriman said.
Merriman says he expects the hospital to file similar motions in every case against them and says the hospital wants the families to file medical malpractice cases.
Those cases have a statute of limitations of one year and caps on damages.
As the judge weighs the situation, the families are just trying to process. Kate Plant says her main motivation for helping create the memorial bench was to serve the other would-be parents like her and her husband.
“We just them to be able to have some sort of healing because nothing can replace what we lost but at least we have something to say hey, these mattered to us,” she said.