A recent court decision focused on the Ortho Evra patch, a birth control option that prevents pregnancy by transferring synthetic hormones through the wearer’s skin.
While arguably more convenient than other forms of birth control, the patch is not without risks, including death.
In the case of Niedner v. Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc., the plaintiff was the administratrix of the estate of a 17-year-old college student who died from a massive, bilateral pulmonary embolism after collapsing in her dorm room in 2009. The plaintiff’s complaint against the defendants alleged several causes of actions against the makers of a birth control “patch” that the student had been using prior to her death. These claims included breach of warranty, design defect, failure to warn, manufacturing defect, breach of express warranty, and negligence.
The plaintiff further alleged that the defendant was liable for fraudulent concealment and violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, codified at Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 93A. The plaintiff also sought recovery for the decedent’s conscious pain and suffering.
One of the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the increased risk of blood clots associated with the patch was adequately disclosed and that the plaintiff’s remaining claims failed as a matter of law. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.
The Massachusetts Appeals Court’s Decision
The court affirmed the lower court’s decision. The court first acknowledged that the manufacturer of a product with known dangers has a duty to warn consumers of these dangers. Although the court found that the defendant owed a specific duty to the decedent to warn her of the risks associated with the patch, the court went on to find that the box containing the patches purchased by the decedent contained a detailed patient labeling insert warning of, among other things, the risk of venous thromboembolic disease (blood clots in the lungs or legs). Since the defendant’s warnings were “plain, numerous, and comprehensive,” the plaintiff’s claim concerning the adequacy of the product’s warning failed.
With regard to the plaintiff’s remaining claims, the court found that there was no evidence that the specific patch used by the decedent was manufactured differently from its intended design or that the insert was inaccurate, false, or deceptive. As to the plaintiff’s claim for the decedent’s conscious pain and suffering, this claim failed because the court found that there was no evidence beyond the plaintiff’s “unsupported contention” that sudden death from blood clots would cause suffering.
Get Advice from a Qualified Cape Cod Product Liability Attorney
Product liability lawsuits can be complex, time-consuming, and expensive. Not every claim arising from an apparently defective product is worth pursuing, but many are. If you or a loved one has been hurt by the poor design, improper labeling, or shoddy manufacturing of a product, the experienced Cape Cod product liability lawyers at the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, are here to help. Call (888) 262-6664 for your free consultation at our Hyannis or Plymouth offices. Nos falamos Portugues!
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