In the third trial over a rash of hepatitis C infections caused by contaminated vials of the anesthetic propofol at Las Vegas colonoscopy and endoscopy clinics, a jury has ordered two drug makers to pay $104 million to 71-year-old Michael Washington and his wife Josephine. It was contended at trial that Teva Pharmaceuticals, which makes the drug, and Baxter Healthcare Corp., the company that marketed it, knew that the jumbo 50 ml and 100 ml vials of propofol were at risk of being reused for multiple patients in shorter surgeries. The Plaintiffs said smaller, single-dose prefilled 10 ml syringes should be used.
Plaintiffs have now won three consecutive cases resulting in three large verdicts being returned in each of the cases. Two days prior to the latest verdict, another jury in the very same courthouse awarded $182.5 million to three patients infected in the outbreak. In April 2010, a jury awarded $505 million in the first trial. Unlike the other trials, the latest was the first time the Plaintiffs won on a defective design claim.
The defective design claim holds the drug companies accountable for selling the 50 ml vials in clinics. It will definitely have an impact on marketing. There were two claims in the case: a claim that it was negligent to put a product on the market and not try to modify it and to sell it to endoscopy centers; and a defective design claim that nobody under any circumstance needs a 50 ml vial.
Jurors returned a verdict of $7 million for Mr. Washington and $7 million for his wife. It should be noted this exceeded the $5 million each that their lawyer requested. The jury also awarded $90 million in punitive damages ($60 million against Teva and $30 million against Baxter) which speaks to the Defendants’ conduct. It was quite obvious that the jurors intended to punish the Defendants.
The Plaintiffs’ lawyers in this case were Richard H. Friedman of Friedman Rubin in Seattle; Patti S. Wise of Edward M. Bernstein and Associates in Las Vegas; and Matthew L. Sharp of Matthew L. Sharp in Reno, Nev. They did a very good job in the case.
Source: Lawyers USA Online
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