N.C. attorney re-files products liability claim in Avandia MDL in Phila.
A North Carolina attorney representing a man who claims he suffered vision loss and other problems as a result of his taking the diabetes drug Avandia has re-filed a products liability claim against drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline in federal court in Philadelphia. Lumberton, N.C. lawyer William S. Britt, who represents Samuel and Gerry Anderson, claims he was unaware that U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who oversees the multi-district Avandia Marketing, Sales Practices & Products Liability Litigation in Philadelphia, had dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint without prejudice on Oct. 12 of last year. The Andersons originally filed their complaint in state court in North Carolina, but the civil action was subsequently transferred to the Avandia MDL in Philadelphia. Britt re-filed the case on Oct. 12 of this year, writing that he had been unaware that the lawsuit was previously dismissed by Rufe because he did not have email contact with the MDL and was not aware of the pending motion before Rufe. Britt eventually discovered a hard copy of the court papers that he had been served with, and which were dated mid-August 2011, but the lawyer claims that because he had not received the emails from the court dismissing the case, he is entitled to re-file the suit. Britt says in court papers that he is re-filing the suit pursuant to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The heart of the complaint has to do with Samuel Anderson’s claims that he developed certain injuries as a result of his ingestion of Avandia, which he was prescribed in December 2004 after he was diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy and macular edema in both of his eyes. The lawsuit claims that although Anderson already had retinopathy before he was placed on Avandia and Avandamet, the drugs caused his retinopathy and resulting macular edema to become “far worse.” A treating physician soon informed Anderson that if he did not have laser eye treatments, he would go blind. At that point, however, there was no indication that the Avandia/Avandamet had any correlation to his continuing problems, the suit states. “Mr. Anderson felt that he had no choice but to consent to the laser treatments and subsequently underwent courses of the laser treatments and the intravitreous injections that he probably would not have had to endure but for the Avandia and Avandamet,” the complaint states. The complaint alleges that since Anderson has been taken off of the two medications, his eyes have “leveled out” and his overall condition has improved, although he still has some mild health problems. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of negligence for concealing the relationship between Avandia and Avandamet and macular edema; minimizing the drugs’ side effects; taking no action to adequately warn consumers of the defects; and failing to disclose information on the adverse effects on macular edema. As a result of the defendants’ alleged negligence, the plaintiffs in this case incurred substantial medical bills, experienced loss wages, underwent physical and mental pain and suffering, and experienced a loss of life’s enjoyment, the suit claims. The Andersons seek more than $30,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as damages for loss of consortium and other court relief. The defendants are GlaxoSmithKline and SmithKline Beecham Corp. The federal case number is 2:12-cv-05819-CMR.