Vernon Glenn, an attorney with Clore Law Group and Allman Spry Leggett & Crumpler, PA, of Winston-Salem, N.C., joined with Jodi Hildebran of Allman Spry and other key counsel, initially in 2010, to try a products liability case against Novartis Pharmaceutical. The case has been on appeal and just today was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, sending an important signal for future cases involving a claim of FDA preemption. The opinion available for download below was handed down by the Fourth Circuit in Richmond today.
In their opinion, the Fourth Circuit unanimously rejected the premise of an FDA preemption defense and agreed with the plaintiffs that a review of products does not negate a manufacturer’s liability in cases where the manufacturer is shown to have not appropriately advised of pertinent risks during the evaluation process.
In the case of The Estate of Rita Fussman v. Novartis, the plaintiffs successfully showed that the Novartis drug Zometa was given to a cancer patient and caused significant injury to the dying woman. Although Zometa was prescribed as a bone strengthening drug, it had the undisclosed side effect of osteonecrosis of the jawbone, causing deterioration of her jawbone, partial collapse of her face, and the loss of almost all of her teeth. Novartis argued that they had made proper disclosure and that the drug had been approved by the FDA, thus releasing them from liability. Attorneys for the plaintiff showed that Novartis withheld information about these side effects during the FDA approval process and were therefore liable for the injuries to Mrs. Fussman.
The case was originally tried in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of N.C., before Judge James A. Beaty, Jr., and after three days of deliberation, the jury found for the plaintiff and awarded $12,887,000 in damages. In order to conform to applicable punitive damages law, the award was reduced by Judge Beaty to $1,258,083.
Commenting on the case, Glenn said,
We believe in the right to trial by jury and the Seventh Amendment, and we were glad to try to this case in front of regular people from all walks of life in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Even though Rita Fussman is no longer with us, this case stands for her rights and those of her husband.
There are hundreds of cases involving this drug currently being adjudicated throughout the United States, in Multi-District litigation. This is the first time that a Federal Appeals Court has upheld a Federal jury verdict in a case involving Norvatis and its drug Zometa.
Clore Law Group takes an aggressive and thorough approach to resolving complex cases that involve catastrophic and traumatic loss to individuals and businesses. Based in Charleston, S.C., and practicing across multiple states, the firm brings together attorneys with formidable track records in winning settlements and jury trials through advanced analysis, research and enhanced presentation of the facts. Clore Law Group applies a strategic approach to handling cases involving wrongful death, serious injuries, business or personal losses. They work diligently to resolve difficult legal matters for injured individuals and businesses.