Stem Cell Storage Company Told To Pay Rs 10-Lakh Compensation For Deficiency In Service

Stem Cell Storage Company Told To Pay Rs 10-Lakh Compensation For Deficiency In Service

The Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, through a bench of K Chandradas Nadar and A Radha, awarded a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to complainant Amina Annervaz for having suffered a loss at the hands of Cryobanks International Private Ltd. and its agents

The complaint was against company Cryobanks and its representatives viz. the Chairperson, Chief Executive Officer, Branch Manager and Collection Agent. Cryobanks is a joint venture company providing umbilical cord blood stem cell processing and storage for both private and public donation purposes and approached Amina Annervaz with attractive offers. Amina and her husband wanted to store the stem cells of their first child in order to safeguard the child in case future medical issues arose, selected the penta power plan offered by Cryobanks. The couple was led to believe that the umbilical cord and the cord blood would be collected under the supervision of an agent of Cryobanks, and the same would be sent to their Delhi Office for storage on the same day.

Amina was further assured that Cryobank’s agent would be personally present during delivery to give sufficient assistance for collection of the stem cell and to give necessary instructions to the doctors and nurses.  Accordingly agreement between the parties was executed. After execution of the agreement, the complainant was provided with a kit containing certain bags and tools for collection of the umbilical cord and cord blood.

However, on the day of the delivery, the agent of the company didn’t show up. Instead Cryobanks sent a delivery boy who did not even know the contents of the kit and was only informed as to where the kit was to be collected and delivered. As a result, none of the doctors or nurses involved knew what was to be done and Amina, lying on delivery table, was forced to instruct them on what was to be collected. But she was not aware what exactly was to be done. Amina alleged a deficiency in service by the company and its representatives and prayed for a compensation of Rs 1 crore.

However, Cryobanks refuted by raising contentions that the kit provided at the time of delivery contained instructions for collection of the same, and these could be followed by registered medical practitioners as per the regulations of the Drugs Controller General of India. The company shifted the blame on the medical practitioners of IQRAA Hospital (where Amina delivered her baby) and stressed that as per the contract entered into between the parties only testing, processing and storage of umbilical cord blood stem cells and not the collection of product is covered. The company further claimed that the attempt of the complainant is only to extract exorbitant money from Cryobanks and the compensation claimed was not commensurate with the loss or damages allegedly suffered by the complainant.

The agent of Cryobanks had assured to be personally present at the time of delivery and collect the umbilical cord and cord blood under the direct supervision of the agent. Since the agent was absent at the time of delivery, the Commission held that this was indeed a deficiency in service provided by them, as alleged by Amina. As a result, when Amina delivered the baby, the doctors and nurses who attended the delivery could not collect sufficient cord blood because they did not know what exactly was to be done. This had created mental agony and stress to Amina and her husband who lost the only opportunity to collect stem cells of their first child for future needs.

The Commission also relied on an apology letter by the company to the couple styled as declaration concluded thus “with this gesture from our side, we hope to build back the trust on us and also with this we assure that we have ever been committed to the best of service standards and such incidences are taken on high priority”, which further confirmed that there was failure on the part of Cryobanks to do things they ought to have done as per the agreement.

Finally, Cryobanks and its representatives as named in the complaint were directed to pay to Amina Rs.10,00,000 as compensation for the deficiency in service committed by them and Rs.10,000 as costs. The amounts are to be paid within two months from the date of receipt of copy of the order, failing which the compensation amount of Rs.10,00,000 would carry interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of complaint till date of payment.

Read the order here.

This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.