Attorneys representing drug companies in a products liability suit initiated
by a Georgia man who claims he sustained injuries after mixing Tylenol and a prescription painkiller have petitioned a federal judge to take up the matter.
Lawyers David F. Abernethy, Melissa A. Graff, and Meredith N. Reinhardt, of the Philadelphia firm Drinker, Biddle & Reath, filed a notice of removal on Sept. 30 at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia seeking the transfer of a complaint by Jonathon Eric Tyler out of state court.
The Georgia resident filed suit at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court in early September against McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson and Amneal Pharmaceuticals over injuries he allegedly sustained, including acute liver failure, after taking the defendants’ over-the-counter pain reliever and a generic version of the drug Vicodin.
Attorneys Laurence S. Berman and Michael Weinkowitz, of Philadelphia’s Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, filed the civil action in state court on Sept. 10.
The defense lawyers contend that the litigation should play out in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania because complete diversity of citizenship exists among the parties and because the amount in controversy is likely to exceed the jurisdictional limit in a Pennsylvania state court, which is $50,000.
Tyler claims in his lawsuit that he had to be taken to the hospital on June 1, 2011, for treatment of acute liver failure, an injury he ties to his ingestion of a mixture of Tylenol and Vicodin.
The man claims he took the medications at “appropriate times and in appropriate amounts for therapeutic purposes and within the recommended daily doses for the products and as prescribed by his physician,” according to his complaint.
The lawsuit contains counts of strict liability, breach of implied and express warranties, negligent failure to warn, negligent design defect, negligent misrepresentation, general negligence, fraud, and fraudulent concealment.
It also accuses the pharmaceutical manufacturers of violating consumer protection laws.
The plaintiff’s attorneys wrote that “it is unconscionable and outrageous” that the defendants would risk the lives of consumers by not properly warning those who use their product of the risk of serious injury.
Tylenol, the suit states, is the leading cause of liver failure in the United States, and the potential for acetaminophen-induced liver damage and failure have been well-documented and known to the defendants for many years before the incident involving the plaintiff.
Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol.
The complaint says that the drug companies failed to properly market, design, manufacture, distribute, supply and test Tylenol, that they over-promoted the product’s safety and efficacy, that they failed to place adequate warnings and instructions on Tylenol, and that they failed to provide “timely and adequate” post-marketing warnings and instructions after they knew of the risk of injury associated with the pain reliever.
The plaintiff seeks unspecified compensatory, treble and punitive damages, together with interest, attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.
A multidistrict litigation concerning products liability claims over Tylenol was consolidated at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania earlier this year.
The state case ID number is 130503559 and the federal case number is 2:13-cv-05712-LS.