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Amputee Awaits Supreme Court Decision

Diana Levine has a big fight coming up. In a drawing made by her daughter, based on Greek mythology there is an illustration of Diana the Huntress, her bow string drawn taut, an arrow ready to fly.

But the arm pulling at the bowstring was amputated below the elbow — just like Levine’s — and the target was labeled the “Wyeth monster.”

Levine blames Wyeth for a botched injection of the Wyeth-made drug Phenergan that led doctors to amputate her right arm in 2000.

Levine was awaiting a hearing Monday before the U.S. Supreme Court, where Wyeth is appealing a $6.7 million verdict in her favor.

The outcome of Levine’s case could have huge ramifications for drug makers and consumers. The court is expected to decide whether people can sue under state law — or are pre-empted from doing so — for harm caused by a drug approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Levine said the drug makers “are using my case … to get through this doctrine that will say that if it is FDA-approved, then we are not accountable, because FDA said it’s OK. … Mr. Pharmaceutical Company is not responsible and is not liable and doesn’t have to help the person who just lost her arm, or her life.”

Read the earlier post

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Wyeth and the FDA say that when a drug like Phenergan has a federally approved label, its manufacturer is immune from lawsuits in state court. Wyeth maintains its label clearly describes the risks of Phenergan, and that it was not only approved but mandated by the FDA. “Wyeth could not change Phenergan’s labeling to comply with Vermont law without violating federal law,” it said in court papers.

Consumer groups are mounting a vigorous campaign against that position, saying federal regulation should represent the floor, not the ceiling, of a drug company’s responsibility.

“What a trial lawyer reasonably could fear in this case is that in one fell swoop, the U.S. Supreme Court would eliminate the right of an injured person to recover from a drug company in the case of a dangerous drug that caused their injury,” said Fordham University law professor Benjamin Zipursky, a product liability expert.

The court could effectively “eliminate all pharmaceutical company liability in this one case,” Zipursky said.

In its appeal to the court, Wyeth said the justices should act to prevent erroneous rulings in “tens of thousands of individual claims and potentially millions of class action claims” that are pending in state and federal courts.

If you or a family member has been injured because of the fault of someone else; by negligence, personal injury, slip and fall, car accident, medical malpractice, trucking accident, drunk driving, bad product, toxic injury etc then please contact the Doctor Attorney Dr. Shezad Malik of Southlake, Texas. For a no obligation, free case analysis, please call 817-255-4001 or Contact Me Online.

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