Mass. Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal of Product Liability Lawsuit

In September of last year, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts issued a written opinion in a product liability lawsuit brought by the surviving family members of a 17-year-old college student who died after suffering from a pulmonary embolism allegedly caused by her use of the defendant’s birth-control patch. In affirming the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ case, the court determined that the manufacturer properly warned potential users of the specific dangers of using the patch, and there was no “feasible and safer alternative” that the manufacturer could have used in manufacturing the patch.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s daughter was a sexually active college student who was looking for a back-up form of birth control in addition to condoms. The student and her mother met with the student’s doctor, who initially provided a prescription for an oral contraceptive. Several months after taking the oral contraceptive, the student stopped taking the pill. Again, she approached her doctor in hopes of finding another alternative. The doctor provided her with a prescription for the defendant’s birth-control patch.

The doctor told the student and her mother about the risks involved with using the patch, which included blood clots. In addition, when the student picked up the prescription, there was a paper insert in the packaging explaining the risks associated with the use of the patch. Three months after using the patch, the student died from a massive pulmonary embolism.

The student’s mother filed a complaint against the manufacturer of the patch, making several product liability claims. The thrust of her argument was that the manufacturer failed to warn her daughter that the risk of a pulmonary embolism while using the patch was significantly higher than with similar oral contraceptives. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the warnings were adequate.

On appeal, the lower court’s decision was upheld. The Appellate Court of Massachusetts considered the warnings as a whole and determined that they were legally sufficient. The court noted the fact that the plaintiff’s daughter’s embolism occurred in her lung, and that was one of four places where the warnings explained an embolism could develop while using the patch. Similarly, the court determined that the patch was not “unreasonably dangerous,” as the plaintiff had claimed. In the end, the court affirmed the dismissal of each of the plaintiff’s claims.

Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous Product?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured after using a dangerous product or taking a dangerous medication, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, as noted above, product liability law in Brockton, Massachusetts is very complex and is best left to attorneys experienced in this specific area of law. The Law Office of Robert C. Shea, P.C., has ample experience handling all kinds of personal injury claims, including those arising out of injuries caused by the use of dangerous products. Call 508-506-5681 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated Brockton personal injury attorney today.


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