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March 20, 2006

Summary Judgment Denied in DES Case

In Clayton v. Eli Lilly and Company, 2006 WL 658854, 2006 Lexis 10309, Docket No. 04-1363 (D.D.C. Mar. 16, 2006), the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denied the defendant's motion for summary judgment in a DES (or diethylstilbestrol)case brought by the daughter of a woman who had taken DES in 1964 when she was pregnant with the plaintiff while living in Birmingham, Alabama.  The plaintiff claimed that she sufffered "uterine and cervical malformations with resulting infertility, incurred medical expenses for care and treatment, and suffered physical and mental pain and suffering, and that her injuries were caused by her exposure to DES in utero."  The plaintiff's mother filled the prescription at a specific pharmacy and recalled taking white cross-scored DES tablets during her pregnancy.  The defendant manufactured similar pills during the relevant time period in Birmingham.  The plaintiff filed her complaint in District of Columbia Superior Court.  The defendant removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. 

In determining whether to grant the defendant's motion for summary judgment the court applied Alabama law, which requires a plaintiff in a products liability case to establish that the defendant's product caused her injuries. See Sheffield v. Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corp., 595 So.2d 443, 450 (Ala.1992) ("threshold requirement of any products liability action is identification of the injury-causing product and its manufacturer").  The defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to establish the necessary connection for various reasons, including the fact that the plaintiff's mother did not initially remember taking any pills during her pregnancy, that the plaintiff did not eliminate the possibility that her mother took a pill manufactured by some other defendant, and that the evidence of the dispensing practices of the pharmacy at the time of sale were insufficiently described.  The court denied the motion, holding that there was an issue upon which reasonable minds could differ as to whether the plaintiff was exposed to the defendant's pill.

MKS

March 20, 2006 | Permalink

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