By Dan Whitcomb
LOSANGELES (Reuters) – A California couple who says their embryo was implanted into a New York woman in an allegedly botched in vitro fertilization procedure sued their Los Angeles-based fertility clinic on Wednesday, the second lawsuit in the case.
In their Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, Anni and Ashot Manukyan of Glendale, California, accused the CHA Fertility Center of medical malpractice, breach of contract, battery and other claims, seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
The New York woman and her husband, a couple who identified themselves as Asian, sued CHA in U.S. District Court in New York last week. The wife gave birth in March 2019 to two boys who were not Asian and not from their embryos or related to each other, according to their lawsuit.
“We relied on CHA to help us build a family and, instead, they robbed us of the opportunity to bring our own son into this world,” Anni Manukyan said in a written statement. “We can never forgive CHA. Our goal as a family is to hold CHA accountable and make sure that no one ever suffers like we did.”
A woman answering the phone for CHA, which also has offices in Orange County, California, said on Wednesday afternoon that the clinic had closed for the day and that representatives were not available for comment.
The clinic’s website touts it as a “world renowned fertility clinic” and features testimonials from women who used its services.
In their lawsuit the Manukyans said one of twins born to the New York woman, identified in court papers only by the initials A.P., was from their embryo, a fact they claim CHA sought to conceal.
The Manukyans said they were forced to go to court to gain custody of their son after the New York couple initially claimed parental rights.
“This incredible series of events demonstrates CHA’s shocking incompetence. Anni and Ashot put all their faith and trust in CHA. In return, CHA gave Anni and Ashot lies, excuses and heartbreak,” the Manukyans attorney, Adam Wolf, said in the statement.
According to the lawsuit, CHA in August 2018 inserted the embryo of another couple in Anni Manukyan. When that in vitro fertilization failed to produce a pregnancy the Manukyans were devastated, thinking they had lost their own child.
The Manukyans claim CHA tricked them into giving a DNA sample in the spring of 2019 after the clinic discovered the discrepancy but lied about the reason, calling it a routine test, the lawsuit said.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Bill Tarrant and Richard Chang)