Denying a request to seal the files of some 50 couples in the UC Irvine fertility scandal, a Superior Court judge Monday set Aug. 15 as the date on which he will approve the couples' $10-million settlement with the university and release the files.
Lawyers for the couples had requested that Judge Robert E. Thomas keep the settlements sealed, citing privacy concerns.
Instead, Thomas ordered the lawyers to submit details, including the plaintiffs' names and the dollar amounts they are to receive.
The cases stemmed from allegations that doctors at the university's fertility clinic stole eggs from women undergoing fertility treatment and implanted some of those eggs in other women who later gave birth.
Melanie R. Blum, an Orange lawyer representing 28 of the couples, has argued that disclosure would violate her clients' privacy rights and would subject them to renewed scrutiny by the news media.
But in June, Thomas denied the request to keep the settlements sealed, ruling that "these are public money settlements, [and] once a case is settled, there is no longer any protection" in the law to keep them secret.
The couples' lawyers appealed Thomas' ruling, but the 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana and the California Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
In court Monday, Blum again asked the judge to seal the settlements pending an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
At one point, Blum said she would agree to the release of general details of the settlements, provided that the couples' names were withheld. But Thomas denied the request.
Outside court, Blum said there is "a good chance" that she will appeal the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.