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US egg donor 'price cap' challenge settles

15 February 2016
Appeared in BioNews 839

A settlement has been reached between parties of a class-action lawsuit regarding compensation paid to egg donors in the USA.

The lawsuit was brought by two egg donors, who have since been joined by a further two donors, against the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). It claims that guidelines, first published in 2000, that state payments to donors in excess of $5,000 'require justification' and that sums above $10,000 are 'not appropriate' amount to an unlawful 'price cap' on the compensation payable to egg donors (reported in BioNews 826).

The guidelines are not mandatory but are widely followed by fertility clinics in the USA. Yet, despite the guidelines, compensation for donor eggs in the USA regularly reaches up to $75,000 dollars and there are even reports of six-figure sums being paid out.

Parties of the lawsuit have now reached a settlement, the Law Blog of the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the proposed settlement the ASRM has agreed to deleting the relevant provisions of the guidelines which place the 'price cap' on egg donor compensations. The organisations also agree to pay the claimants' legal fees of around $1.5 million. The claimants will also receive $5,000 each.

A California district court has been asked to preliminarily approve the terms and to order that the settlement be distributed to all members of the settlement class, namely all egg donors affected by the ASRM guidelines in the past, present and future. Members can then raise objections to the settlement, which will be heard by the court before the terms are finalised.

Ellen Meriwether of Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP who represented the claimants told Law360: 'We are pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement with the Defendants that, in our view, will benefit the class by removing a compensation guideline that Plaintiffs alleged violated the antitrust laws.'

8 August 2016 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
Fertility clinics in Australia have been warned not to offer flat fees to egg and sperm donors, reports the Sydney Morning Herald...
2 November 2015 - by Lone Hørlyck 
Egg donors are suing the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology in a class-action lawsuit for setting a 'price cap' on compensation to egg donors...
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