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Third Circuit Court of Appeals Case Reviews Medical Proof Necessary to File a Claim for Diet Drug Benefits

Under Pennsylvania law, a manufacturer or supplier is liable for any harm caused by a defect, if the defect was a substantial factor in bringing about the harm. The product is defective if it lacks any element necessary that would make it safe for intended use, which includes reasonably foreseeable use or misuse of the product. However, the injury must occur to the intended user of the product.

Some product liability cases become class action lawsuits, where multiple parties suffering the same type of injury seek damages for the harm caused by the product. Often, the types of class action suits involve products related to medical care or used to improve your health. The United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a Non-Precedential decision for In Re: Diet Drugs, which discussed the medical proof needed to obtain a claim payment for an unsafe diet drug. A Settlement Agreement was reached with the plaintiffs’ attorneys, and money was set aside in a trust for claim payments. Qualifications were set by the trust administrators to determine whether or not a claimant should be paid benefits.

The resulting case occurred after a class member was denied compensation benefits. She ingested one of the weight loss drugs for over six months. She submitted an echocardiogram, and it was reviewed by a physician who stated she had “moderate mitral regurgitation” where her heart valve separating the lower and upper heart chambers failed to close properly, causing leakage. The Trust, due to several false claims, reviewed a number of the claims for intentional manipulation. The Trust identified the woman’s claim as one containing intentional material misrepresentations of fact. The Trust rejected her claim, based on a letter from a separate doctor who concluded there was no reasonable medical basis for finding moderate mitral regurgitation. After contesting the findings with additional statements, the Trust denied her claim again, and this appeal ensued.

The woman argued that she provided enough medical proof to qualify for the benefit. The Court of Appeals did not find the class member’s claim persuasive, determining that there must have been only one order that could have been entered on the facts. The court felt the class member failed to show that the lone conclusion to be drawn by those facts was that she suffered from moderate mitral regurgitation, by failing to rebut the Trust’s physicians’ opinions. The Court of Appeals concluded that she fell short of her burden to provide a reasonable medical basis for her alleged condition.

The Pennsylvania product liability attorneys at Needle Law Firm, P.C. have the experience you need to recover the damages you deserve. When manufacturers and suppliers provide unsafe products to consumers, catastrophic injuries can occur, causing life-long, debilitating conditions. Our office will tirelessly work to investigate and litigate your unique case to maximize your recovery. For a free, confidential consultation, contact our office at 570-344-1266.

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