More fentanyl cases filed in federal court

By Kelly Holleran | Nov 1, 2010

CLARKSBURG – Four new complaints have been filed against a major drug manufacturer after residents from various states claim their relatives died following exposure to lethal amounts of fentanyl through prescribed pain patches.

In her complaint filed Sept. 30, Beth Oliver, sister of Mark Mendenhall and a Florida resident, says her brother died on Oct. 20, 2008, after receiving a prescription for a 100 mcg fentanyl patch manufactured by defendant Mylan.

In his complaint filed Sept. 30, Stephen Rosenberg, husband of Toni Rosenberg and a Colorado resident, says his wife passed away on Jan. 25, 2009, after receiving a prescription for 75 mcg fentanyl patch manufactured by defendant Mylan.

In her complaint filed Oct. 18, Rose Ann Mowery, wife of Edward Mowery and an Ohio resident, claims her husband expired on Nov. 13, 2008, after receiving a prescription for 50 mcg fentanyl patch manufactured by defendant Mylan.

In his complaint filed Oct. 27, Jeffrey Winters, husband of Laurie Winters and a New York resident, alleges his wife died on Feb. 28, 2007, after receiving a prescription for 100 mcg fentanyl patch manufactured by defendant Mylan.

The patches, also known as the matrix patch, contain the drug fentanyl, which is used to relieve pain, according to the federal complaints filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

Patients apply the patch themselves, and it is supposed to release a certain amount of fentanyl at a certain rate through the patient's skin, the suit states.

However, the plaintiffs claim the patches released too much fentanyl into their relatives' bodies, causing them to die. They say their relatives did not improperly use the patch and blame the deaths on the defective condition of the patches.

"The patch is unsafe for its intended or reasonably foreseeable use because it can and does cause lethal levels of fentanyl in patients," the complaints say. "The Mylan Defendants knew or should have known that patients were receiving lethal fentanyl doses from proper use of the Patch because of wrongful death lawsuits filed against them, from the FDA's adverse event reporting system, and adverse event reports from medical examiners and the World Health Organization."

Because of Mendenhall's, Rosenberg's, Mowery's and Winters' deaths, their families have suffered sorrow, mental anguish and solace and incurred medical and funeral costs, the suit states.

According to the complaints, Mylan failed to warn of risks associated with the patch and could have used a safer design that was technologically feasible at the time the patch was manufactured.

Causes of action include strict product liability, negligence, negligent misrepresentation and breach of express warranty. In addition, Rosenberg, Mowery and Winters claim breach of implied warranty of fitness while Rosenberg alleges violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act against the defendants and Mowery alleges wanton, willful or reckless conduct.

Oliver, Rosenberg, Mowery and Winters are seeking unspecified punitive and exemplary damages, actual damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, costs and other relief to which they may be entitled.

All the plaintiffs will be represented by Kathryn R. Bayless of The Bayless Law Firm in Princeton. Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr Jr., Eric D. Pearson and Charles W. Miller of Heygood, Orr, Reyes and Bartolomei in Dallas will serve of counsel.

U.S. District Court case numbers: 1:10-cv-168, 1:10-cv-169, 1:10-cv-178, 1:10-cv-186

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