Widow blames heparin for husband's death

By Kelly Holleran | Nov 23, 2010

BECKLEY – The wife of a recently deceased man blames the makers of an anticoagulant for causing her husband's death.

BECKLEY – The wife of a recently deceased man blames the makers of an anticoagulant for causing her husband's death.

Martha W. Dinkler claims her husband, Earl Henry Dinkler, died after doctors at Charleston Area Medical Center administered heparin products manufactured and supplied by defendants APP Pharmaceuticals, Baxter Healthcare Corporation and Hospira World Wide.

Martha Dinkler claims her husband was admitted to CAMC on Jan. 24, 2008, to undergo a surgery to treat an abdominal aortic aneurysm. During the surgery, doctors gave Earl Dinkler 5,000 units of heparin products, according to the complaint filed in Raleigh Circuit Court.

Less than six months later, Earl Dinkler again was admitted to CAMC for a cardiac catheterization on June 6, 2008. Again, doctors administered heparin products to Earl Dinkler, the suit states.

On June 9, 2008, Earl Dinkler underwent coronary artery bypass grafting at CAMC. During the surgery, doctors administered heparin and administered an additional 5,000 units following the surgery, the complaint says.

Subsequent to the surgeries, Earl Dinkler developed heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, a condition resulting from a patient's reaction to heparin causing an accumulation of heparin antibodies, his wife claims.

"HIT attacks platelets in the blood, and sometimes the lining of the blood vessels, and produces the opposite result from that for which heparin is being used; it causes rather than prevents clotting," the suit states.

As a result of his adverse reaction to the heparin in his body, Earl Dinkler suffered from blood clots, liver failure and mottling of the skin, according to the complaint. He died on June 11, 2008, the complaint says.

Because of her husband's death, Martha Dinkler lost his services, financial support, society, companionship, care, assistance and attention; suffered from mental anguish; and incurred funeral and burial costs, the complaint says.

Martha Dinkler claims her husband's death should never have occurred because the defendant companies should have warned her and her husband's treating physicians of the risks of the drug, which Earl Dinkler never would have taken had he known of the dangers.

"Prior to the administration of heparin to the Decedent, it was known to Defendants, or they had reason to know or should have known, of the increased risk of HIT associated with the heparin," the suit states.

Instead of warning the public of the drug's dangers, though, the defendants downplayed the medication's serious health side effects, according to the complaint.

In her complaint, Martha Dinkler alleges strict liability, design defect, negligence, breach of implied warranty, breach of express warranty, negligent misrepresentation, fraud by concealment, wrongful death and loss of consortium against the defendants.

She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief the court deems just.

APP Pharmaceuticals, Baxter and Hospira removed the case to U.S. District Court, alleging they are residents of different states than Martha Dinkler. They also claim Martha Dinkler is seeking more than $75,000, the minimum requirement for U.S. District Court.

They also say that Martha Dinkler raises a federal question, which can only be resolved in federal court.

Brian Ghaphery of Ghaphery Law Offices in Wheeling and Daniel R. Lapinski, Phillip A. Tortoreti and Lynne M. Kizeis of Wilentz, Goldman and Spitzer in Woodbridge, N.J., will be representing Martha Dinkler.

Carrie Goodwin Fenwick of Goodwin and Goodwin in Charleston will be representing the defendants.

U.S. District Court case number: 5:10-1282

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