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Superior Court Affirms $10 Million Award to Severely Injured Child

If you’ve been injured by a product in in Pennsylvania, you may be able to recover damages from the manufacturer or distributor of the product. You need to either show the product was defectively manufactured in a way that made it unreasonably dangerous to consumers, even when it was used correctly, or if the product was accompanied by insufficient warnings about the potential harm that it may cause, or a combination of the two.  One type of consumer product associated with warning labels is over-the-counter medications, particularly child medications. The Pennsylvania Superior Court issued a decision that affirmed a jury verdict of $10 million to an injured girl who took over-the-counter children’s Motrin, a product manufactured in Pennsylvania.

The child’s eventual, severe medical condition stemmed from the Motrin administered to relieve her of a fever.  The fever continued overnight, and the child’s mother gave her a second dose.  A rash formed, but it was not considered unusual, for a rash had previously appeared on the child before.  A pediatrician was consulted, and the doctor recommended that the child alternate between the Motrin and children’s Tylenol.  The mother, having read the label, noted that a doctor needed to be consulted if there were hives, wheezing, facial swelling, or shock that persisted.  The mother took the child to the doctor soon after the phone call, and the child was diagnosed with pneumonia.  The child was prescribed antibiotics, but she suffered from a worsened condition of red eyes, runny discharge, a persistent fever, red lips, and a red rash on her chest.  The mother gave her the antibiotics, and she continued with the alternating regimen of children’s Motrin and children’s Tylenol.  

The next day the child had to be taken to the emergency room after the rash covered her entire body and developed into blisters and other wounds.  The child’s skin began to slough off, and surgery was performed to reduce the risk of infection from so many open wounds.  The child had to be treated in the same manner as a severe burn victim due to the exposed layers of skin and risk of infection.  The girl continued to have lasting medical problems, including sensitivity to sun, multiple eye surgeries, blindness, and internal bleeding in her uterus.  A product liability claim was filed, claiming that the manufacturer failed to warn of the dangers of the product.   The complaint alleged that the over-the-counter children’s Motrin failed to warn that blisters should not have been caused by the product and did not advise to stop consumption for symptoms of hives, wheezing, facial swelling, or shock.  

In its appeal, the drug manufacturer argued that the Food and Drug Administration did not require the addition of skin reddening, rash, and blisters to the list of symptoms, so it could not be held negligent.  The Superior Court looked to prior Pennsylvania decisions that held the manufacturer ultimately responsible for the labeling as long as the drugs were on the market, regardless of whether or not it was compliant with FDA requirements.  The Court looked at the testimony of the mother during the proceedings, where she consistently testified that she would have stopped administering the medication if the label clearly directed her to stop use.  The manufacturers also tried to argue that there was no proof that those symptoms ultimately caused the child’s lifelong medical problems, but the Superior Court found plenty of testimony from physicians who specifically connected the blisters to her diagnosis and stated that stopping the medication would have reduced the severity of the injuries. After review of the lower court’s record and relevant case law, the Superior Court chose to uphold the jury’s award of $10 million.  

If you or a family member has been injured by over-the-counter medication or any other product, contact our office today at 570-344-1266 to speak to one of our experienced Pennsylvania product liability attorneys at Needle Law Firm

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