Justia Drugs & Biotech Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. H.D. Smith, LLC.
West Virginia sued pharmaceutical distributors, seeking to hold them liable for contributing to the state’s epidemic of prescription drug abuse. The complaint alleged that certain pharmacies, “pill mills,” knowingly provided citizens with hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, and other prescription drugs, not for legitimate uses, but to fuel and profit from their addictions. The state contends that those pharmacies ordered drugs in quantities so large that the distributors should have known they would be used for illicit purposes. H.D. Smith, a distributor, had a general commercial liability insurance policy issued by Cincinnati Insurance. The policy covered damages that H.D. Smith became legally obligated to pay “because of bodily injury,” defined as “bodily injury, sickness or disease sustained by a person, including death.” “[D]amages because of bodily injury” include “damages claimed by any person or organization for care, loss of services or death resulting at any time from the bodily injury.” Cincinnati refused to defend the suit and obtained a declaratory judgment. The Seventh Circuit reversed summary judgment. The plain language of the policy requires Cincinnati to defend a suit brought by a plaintiff to recover money paid to care for someone who was injured by H.D. Smith. West Virginia’s suit fits that description. View "Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. H.D. Smith, LLC." on Justia Law
Hochendoner v. Genzyme Corp.
Fabry Disease, a rare genetic disorder, leaves afflicted persons unable to synthesize a key enzyme that helps the body break down fats. Untreated, Fabry patients suffer progressively more severe symptoms, including pain in their extremities, gastrointestinal issues, vision and hearing losses, stroke, and heart and kidney failure, eventually leading to premature death. Researchers at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine developed a method for producing a replacement enzyme, which effectively treats (but does not cure) Fabry. After patenting this method, Mt. Sinai granted an exclusive license to Genzyme, which became the sole producer of the replacement enzyme, "Fabrazyme," the only FDA-approved enzyme replacement therapy for the treatment of Fabry. Genzyme provided the drug to Fabry patients until 2009. After a virus was discovered in improperly cleaned equipment at the company's manufacturing facility, Genzyme reduced production, leading to a Fabrazyme shortage. The company began rationing. Despite setbacks in reestablishing production levels, in 2011 Genzyme diverted some Fabrazyme to the European market, allegedly because of competition Genzyme faced from an alternative enzyme replacement therapy approved only in Europe. Two class action complaints were consolidated and dismissed. The First Circuit affirmed in part, for lack of standing, noting “the utter failure of any plaintiff (other than Mooney) to plausibly allege that he or she suffered an injury in fact as a result of accelerated disease progression or receipt of a contaminated drug.” View "Hochendoner v. Genzyme Corp." on Justia Law
Moriarty v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs.
Eilise was born in 1996 and had problems with gross motor skills and language development. After therapy, Eilise showed dramatic improvement. In 2001, Eilise received three vaccinations, including her second dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. Five days later, Eilise’s brother witnessed her arching her back, thrusting her head back, rolling her eyes, and jerking. He did not know what was happening. Her parents, who did not witness the seizure, noted that Eilise was feverish and lethargic. Eilise had a grand mal seizure at school. She was taken to a hospital. She had another seizure there. Eilise’s MRI results were generally normal, but her EEG results were “consistent with a clinical diagnosis of epilepsy.” She continued to suffer seizures until she started a ketogenic diet. Her parents filed suit under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, 42 U.S.C. 300aa, alleging that Eilise suffered from autism as a result of her vaccinations; they later amended to allege, instead, that Eilise suffered from a “seizure disorder and encephalopathy.” The Claims Court affirmed denial of her petition. The Federal Circuit vacated: in certain cases, a petitioner can prove a logical sequence of cause and effect between a vaccination and the injury with a physician’s opinion where the petitioner has proved that the vaccination can cause the injury and that the vaccination and injury have a close temporal proximity. View "Moriarty v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs." on Justia Law
Wis. Pharmacal Co., LLC v. Neb. Cultures of Cal., Inc.
The underlying coverage dispute arose from the supplying of a defective ingredient for incorporation into Wisconsin Pharmacal Company (Pharmacal) probiotic supplement tablets. Pharmacal brought this action against Jeneil Biotech, Inc. and Nebraska Cultures of California, Inc. (the Insureds) and the Netherlands Insurance Company and Evanston Insurance Company (the Insurers), alleging numerous tort and contract claims. The Insurers moved for summary judgment, arguing that their respective insurance policies did not cover any damages that arose out of the causes of action against the Insureds. The circuit court granted the Insurers’ motions for summary judgment, determining that the facts of this case did not trigger the Insurers’ duties to defend. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the policies provided coverage. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no “property damage” caused by an “occurrence” in this case, and even if there were, certain exclusions in both policies applied to negate coverage. View "Wis. Pharmacal Co., LLC v. Neb. Cultures of Cal., Inc." on Justia Law
Yates v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharma., Inc.
In 2004, Yates, 17 years old, was sexually active and was suffering from severe menstrual cramps. Smith, a licensed physician assistant, counseled Yates about various contraceptives, and the risks and benefits accompanying each. Yates admits that she was counseled concerning the risk of a stroke and clotting associated with ORTHO EVRA®. She decided to try Depo-Provera, which requires injections at three-month intervals. In 2005 she discontinued Depo-Provera due to weight gain and switched to the ORTHO EVRA® patch. Smith again discussed side effects. Yates admitted that she would have used ORTHO EVRA® even if she had read package warnings. Yates suffered a stroke while she was wearing her first weekly patch. A board-certified neurologist and neurophysiologist opined that Yates’s “use of the Ortho-Evra patch was the contributing cause of her stroke.” Smith’s suit was transferred for consolidated pretrial proceedings in connection with In re: Ortho Evra Products Liability Litigation. The district court dismissed her claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The ORTHO EVRA® warnings in effect when Yates was prescribed the patch adequately warned her prescribing medical provider of the risk of stroke; there was no duty to directly warn Yates. The court rejected design defect, manufacturing defect, and negligence claims. View "Yates v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharma., Inc." on Justia Law
Pasternack v. Laboratory Corporation
Plaintiff, a physician and airplane pilot, filed suit contending that LabCorp and other drug testing companies, engaged to administer a random drug test in accordance with federal regulations governing aviation safety, mishandled the test. The court reserved decision and certified the following questions to the New York Court of Appeals: whether drug testing regulations and guidelines promulgated by the FAA and DOT create a duty of care for drug testing laboratories and program administrators under New York negligence law; and whether a plaintiff may establish the reliance element of a fraud claim under New York law by showing that a third party relied on a defendantʹs false statements resulting in injury to the plaintiff. View "Pasternack v. Laboratory Corporation" on Justia Law
Cooper v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals
Plaintiffs, including Jack and Nancy Cooper, filed suit against Takeda, manufacturers of the prescription drug Actos, which is used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. The Coopers appealed the trial court's grant of Takeda's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and Takeda's alternative motion for new trial on the grounds that without the testimony of plaintiffs’ expert, Dr. Smith, the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict, and that the trial court should not have instructed the jury regarding concurrent causation. The court concluded that the trial court erred in striking the expert’s testimony. The court concluded that, by requiring that the expert rule out all other possible causes for Jack Cooper’s bladder cancer, even where there was no substantial evidence that other such causes might be relevant, the trial court exceeded the proper boundaries of its gatekeeping function in determining the admissibility of the complex scientific testimony. The court also concluded that the evidence supported giving a jury instruction on multiple causation. Accordingly, The court reversed the judgment notwithstanding the verdict and the order granting a new trial, as well as the subsequent judgment entered in favor of Takeda, and remanded the matter to the trial court with directions to enter a new judgment based on the jury’s verdict. View "Cooper v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals" on Justia Law
Wahl v. Gen. Elec. Co.
GE manufactures Omniscan, an FDA-approved gadolinium-based contrast agent that has been associated in some patients with development of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF), a rare and deadly condition that leads to the hardening (fibrosis) of the kidneys. Omniscan was administered to Wahl for two MRIs she received in Nashville in 2006. About one year later, she displayed the first symptoms of NSF. She was officially diagnosed with NSF in 2010. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated all pre-trial litigation of Omniscan-related cases in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. In 2011, Wahl filed a complaint in that court. With the agreement of Wahl and GE, the MDL judge transferred the case, in 2013, to the Middle District of Tennessee, the “proper venue.” GE then moved for summary judgment, arguing that all Omniscan doses produced from 2004 to 2006 were marked with expiration dates two years after manufacture, so the Omniscan administered to Wahl must have expired no later than 2008; the Tennessee Products Liability Act’s statute of repose requires suits to be instituted within one year of the expiration date appearing on a product’s packaging. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment, favoring GE, applying Tennessee choice-of-law rules. View "Wahl v. Gen. Elec. Co." on Justia Law
Reckis v. Johnson & Johnson
When Samantha Reckis was seven years old, she developed toxic epidermal necrolysis, a life-threatening skin disorder, after receiving multiple doses of Children’s Motrin, an over-the-counter medication with ibuprofen as its active ingredient. Plaintiffs, Samantha and her parents, sued the manufacturer and marketer of Children’s Motrin and its parent company, alleging that Samantha developed TEN as a result of being exposed to ibuprofen in the Children’s Motrin and that the warning label on the medication’s bottle rendered the product defective because it failed to warn consumers about the serious risk of developing a life-threatening disease from it. A jury found in favor of Plaintiffs and awarded Samantha a total of $50 million in compensatory damages and each of Samantha’s parents $6.5 million for loss of consortium. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs’ claim of failure to warn was not preempted by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; (2) a pharmacologist who offered the causation evidence essential to Plaintiffs’ case was qualified to testify as to specific medical causation, and the testimony was reliable and admissible; and (3) the damages awarded to each of the plaintiffs were not grossly excessive or unsupported by the record. View "Reckis v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law
Decker v. GE Healthcare Inc.
In 2005, in connection with a magnetic resonance imaging procedure (MRI), Decker received a dose of Omniscan, a gadoliniumbased contrast agent manufactured by GEHC. After taking Omniscan, Decker developed Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF). In 2012, the Deckers sued GEHC, as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). Before the Deckers’ case, hundreds of similar cases in the MDL involving GEHC had been settled. The Decker case was the first case in the MDL to go to trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the Deckers on a failure-to-warn claim, awarding $5 million in damages. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting claims that the district court judge should have recused himself from the trial and a motion for a new trial; made several erroneous evidentiary rulings, which were applicable to all MDL cases; erroneously denied GEHC’s motion for a new trial because insufficient evidence supported the jury’s verdict regarding the causation element of the Deckers’ failure-to-warn claim; and erroneously failed to issue two proposed jury instructions. View "Decker v. GE Healthcare Inc." on Justia Law