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Former UH fertility lab director files strong allegations in new court documents surrounding 2018 incident

UH calls the accusations 'false and misleading'
Bold claims from former UH fertility lab director but UH says they are false
Posted at 6:09 PM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 23:13:20-04

CLEVELAND — Explosive new allegations are now filed in the ongoing case involving the University Hospitals Fertility Center incident that destroyed numerous eggs and embryos three years ago.

In the 79-page document filed just yesterday in the Geauga County Courts, there are claims from Dr. Andrew Bhatnager that the attorneys hired by UH to defend him “engaged in serious ethical—and potentially criminal—misconduct.”

ACCUSATIONS 'LAWYERS PRESSURED, INTIMIDATED'

In the court filing, it claims Dr. Bhatnager’s “…lawyers pressured, intimidated and coached him to withhold key details about what really happened.”

This all stems from a March 2018 discovery of a fertility holding tank that failed at the fertility center in Beachwood. Court documents claim buckets of liquid Nitrogen were poured into the chamber that held specimens which is an “… unapproved method…ineffective to maintain the stable temperatures…” needed. Dr. Bhatnager said he repeatedly warned UH about using the questionable tanks.

In the filing, it says Tucker Ellis LLP attorneys hired by UH, “…manipulated and intimidated Dr. Bhatnager to toe the company line, repeatedly threatening that he would lose indemnification and defense if he did not tell the story that they wished.” And that “…”included withholding information during his September 3 and 4, 2019 deposition testimony.”

CLAIMS OF HIDING THE TRUTH, DELETING EMAIL

Plus, even though Dr. Bhatnager said he was in Cleveland when the federal and state investigators came to the fertility center in March of 2018, the claim is that his attorney “…directed Dr. Bhatnager to return to his hotel while the investigators were at the facility, and pretend he was offsite and thus unavailable to meet with the inspectors.”

At one point, the document claims a Tucker Ellis attorney “demanded” a nationally recognized IVF lab management expert called in to evaluate what happened “…delete the email he had sent UH officials” that criticized the use of the cryogenic tanks.

UH STATEMENT: CLAIMS ARE 'MISCHARACTERIZATIONS'

UH issued the following statement about the allegations:

Dr. Bhatnager and his new legal counsel have chosen to file a motion in which they make a number of false and misleading statements. Because this filing violates a number of legal orders and ethical principles, we will continue to respond to their mischaracterizations in court through the appropriate legal process.

Friday, UH filed for a temporary restraining order prohibiting attorneys from speaking publicly on the issues of the doctor’s motion to disqualify counsel.

VICTIMS' ATTORNEY SPEAKS OUT

Those who’ve represented victims of the lost embryos spoke out today.

“This is highly disturbing misconduct that was claimed in this filing,” said Adam Wolf from Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway Lawfirm. “What is alleged here, if true, means that our prior clients settled their claims based on a completely fabricated narrative."

He said the settlements were based on what was known at the time, and his firm might have to revisit those resolutions if the claims are accurate.

“We have some real deep, hard thinking to do. Those settlements were allegedly procured through fraud,” said Wolf.

The Chandra Law Firm that represents Dr. Bhatnager sent us a statement as well.

Dr. Bhatnager is determined to ensure that patient-victims of the UH fertility-lab disaster know the truth about what happened.

We have also reached out to the Tucker Ellis Law Firm to get its side of this story, but we have not heard back just yet.

To read News 5's complete coverage of the fertility clinic failure, click here.

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