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New Judge Ashley Kilbane To Take Over UH Fertility Clinic Case

A UH embryo storage tank malfunctioned in March of this year, resulting in up to 70 lawsuits. [University Hospitals]
A UH embryo storage tank malfunctioned in March of this year, resulting in up to 70 lawsuits. (Photo: University Hospitals)

A newly elected Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge, Ashley Kilbane, will inherit the case against University Hospitals fertility clinic, court administrators have confirmed. The case initially had been assigned to her predecessor, Judge Stuart Friedman, who is retiring from the bench when his term expires at year's end. Friedman, 74, was unable to seek re-election this year because of age restrictions in the Ohio Constitution.

Friedman had filed a request to remain on the case through 2019, citing the complex legal issues involved. His request was not approved.

In early March of this year, an embryo storage tank at UH malfunctioned, leaving 4,000 eggs and embryos unviable, and affecting up to 1,000 fertility patients. Up to 70 lawsuits have been filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

In July, responding to a motion by UH attorneys, Judge Friedman imposed a gag order on lawyers for the plaintiffs to stop them from publicly discussing the case. Their comments, he ruled, were "clearly intended to inflame the public, which itself can only be intended to poison potential jurors."

Kilbane, 35, a former assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor, defeated Republican Bradley Hull IV in the November election. Her term begins January 2.

lecia.bushak@ideastream.org | 216-916-6062