A New Hampshire jury awarded the state’s highest product liability verdict ever when it awarded Karen Bartlett $21 million for the injuries she incurred as a result of taking Sulindac, an anti-inflammatory prescription drug manufactured by Mutual Pharmaceutical Co., Inc. The jury found the drug company liable for Bartlett’s injuries based on the concept that it should have known that the drug was unreasonably dangerous. Bartlett v. Mutual Pharmaceutical Co., Inc.
Bartlett was initially prescribed Sulindac to treat her shoulder pain. However, quickly after beginning the medication she began to experience skin irritation and a sensation of having “pebbles” in her throat and eyelids. Eventually these symptoms worsened as the drug continued to essentially burn Bartlett from the inside out, leaving her with burns to over 65% of her body. In addition, Bartlett was left legally blind despite undergoing 12 eye surgeries. Bartlett was eventually diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis (SJS/TEN).
The main legal issue in the pharmaceutical liability case was whether or not the drug, Sulindac, was unreasonably dangerous and whether the pharmaceutical company should have known that it was dangerous. At the trial the plaintiff’s attorney presented evidence demonstrating that Sulindac has been linked with incidents of SJS/TEN. Furthermore, plaintiff demonstrated that the occurrences of SJS/TEN among consumers taking Sulindac was higher than any other anti-inflammatory medication on the market.
At the time Bartlett was prescribed Sulindac the prescription drug’s warning label did not include any language warning consumers of the possibility of developing SJS/TEN. However, the pharmaceutical company has since changed its warning label to include additional possible side effects, including SJS/TEN.
The jury ended up ruling in favor the plaintiff against the pharmaceutical company and awarded the plaintiff $21 million in damages. In order to reach this ruling the jury had been instructed that it first needed to find that the prescription drug was unreasonably dangerous, i.e. that its benefits did not outweigh its risks, but also that Sulindac was the cause of the plaintiff’s subsequent injuries. If either of these conditions was not met then the jury could not have ruled in favor of the plaintiff in this product liability case.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois pharmaceutical liability cases for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Barrington, Arlington Heights, Wheaton, and Blue Island.
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