Fentanyl Pain Patch Overdose Lawsuits
By Danielle Briones
Published on April 29, 2009
Since the Fentanyl pain patch was released to the U.S. market, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers of the product, as well as health care providers. These lawsuits allege that Fentanyl transdermal pain patches are defective, product warning labels fail to adequately warn patients of its potential dangers, and health care professionals have failed to properly use and prescribe the medication.
Below is a review of Fentanyl lawsuits that have led to favorable settlements and verdicts.
More Than $16.5 Million Verdict in Illinois Fentanyl Overdose Death Case
In December of 2008, a Chicago jury found Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries, Alza Corporation and Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, liable for the death of a 38-year-old Cicero, Illinois woman who died while wearing a Duragesic Fentanyl pain patch, awarding $16,560,000 to the family of the victim.
Janice DiCosolo died in February 2004 after the pain patch she was wearing delivered an overdose of fentanyl. She was using the pain patches to treat chronic neck pain.
The DiCosolo family's attorneys argued that the pain patch used by the victim was defective and allowed a fatal dose of Fentanyl to enter her system.
Attorneys for Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries argued that medical reports showed that DiCosolo had as many as five drugs in her system and that her death was the result of mixing medications.
Johnson & Johnson's attorneys say they are not happy with the verdict and are planning an appeal.
Jury Awards $13 Million to Family of Florida Woman Who Died from Fentanyl Overdose
In October of 2008, a Sanford, Florida jury awarded $13.3 million to the family of a 34-year-old mother of five who died as a result of a Fentanyl overdose, finding that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries, Alza Corporation and Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, as well as a physician's assistant were responsible for the death.
Susan Hodgemire died in 2002 after using the Duragesic Fentanyl pain patches following back surgery.
Hodgemire's family filed suit against the manufacturers of the drug claiming they failed to adequately warn patients about the possible dangers of the drug. They also sued Hodgemire's physician's assistant for providing negligent medical advice.
The jury found that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries were 80 percent liable for Hodgemire's death, while the physician's assistant was 20 percent responsible.
Johnson & Johnson's attorneys say they do not agree with the verdict and are looking at options to appeal.
Johnson & Johnson Hit with $5.5 Million Florida Jury Verdict in Defective Fentanyl Patch Case
In June of 2007, the family of a 28-year-old Florida man who died while wearing a Duragesic Fentanyl pain patch on his right arm was awarded a $5.5 million jury verdict in their case against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries, Alza Corporation and Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, the manufacturers of the Duragesic Fentanyl pain patch.
Adam Hendelson died in December of 2003 while wearing a 75-microgram Duragesic Fentanyl transdermal pain patch. Doctors later determined that he died as a result of a Fentanyl overdose. Hendelson had previously been injured in an auto accident and suffered from chronic hip pain; physicians prescribed the Fentanyl pain patch to him to help control the pain.
The jury found that the Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries were negligent in the production of the pain patches, leading to use of defective patches; and that the companies failed to adequately advise consumers of the potential dangers of the patch.
Johnson & Johnson denied any wrongdoing during the trial, but have since issued updates on the proper use of the product and its potential dangers. The company planned to appeal the $5.5 million verdict; however, in July of 2007, Johnson & Johnson agreed to drop its appeal of the case as part of a $2.5 million settlement with the Hendelson family.
Texas Woman's Family Obtains More than $750,000 Recovery in Fentanyl Overdose Suit
In July of 2006, a Houston, Texas jury found Johnson & Johnson responsible for the death of a 42-year-old woman who died of a Fentanyl overdose, awarding $772,500 in damages to her family.
Michaelynn Thompson died in 2004 while wearing a Duragesic pain patch. She used the pain patches to treat chronic pain resulting from a previous car accident.
Thompson's family filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, alleging that Duragesic Fentanyl pain patches had a manufacturing defect that allowed the powerful Fentanyl drug to leak in an uncontrolled manner. Medical reports showed that Thompson had 10 times the recommend dose of Fentanyl in her system when she died.
The jury deliberated for seven hours before finding Johnson & Johnson liable for Thompson's death.
A $1.6 Million Nursing Home Settlement Awarded to California Victim of Fentanyl Overdose
In July of 2005, Ruth Lomeo was admitted to Edgemoor Geriatric Hospital, a county-run nursing home, for the treatment of Lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues and organs. During Lomeo's hospital stay, physicians ordered the nursing home staff to treat Lomeo's chronic pain by placing Fentanyl pain patches on alternating arms every 48 hours.
According to the plaintiff, on July 25, 2005, two Fentanyl pain patches were placed on one of Lomeo's arms, while another patch was left on the other arm. The resulting Fentanyl overdose caused Lomeo to experience respiratory problems; however, the staff waited more than 20 minutes to call 911 and request emergency services. The suit alleged that the Fentanyl overdose, combined with the delay in medical attention, caused brain damage due to lack of oxygen flow to the brain.
The County of San Diego, which runs Edgemoor Geriatric Hospital, opted to settle the suit for $1.6 million in November of 2008; a representative for the county denies any liability on the part of the county, and says the decision to settle the case was business-based and intended to avoid a potentially costlier jury verdict.
If you have suffered from adverse health effects following use of the Fentanyl pain patch, contact a defective drugs attorney as soon as possible for a review of your case.