W.Va. lawsuits over dialysis treatments sent to Mass. federal court

By John O'Brien | Jul 18, 2013

CHARLESTON – Two lawsuits filed against Fresenius Medical Care over the chemicals it used in dialysis procedures have been transferred out-of-state.

Lawsuits filed by Linda Bryant, on behalf of the Estate of Dalta Dixie Pauley, and Larry DeBord have been transferred to a Multidistrict Litigation proceeding in a Massachusetts federal court. Fresenius has its headquarters in Waltham, Mass.

DeBord is a Kentucky man who says he suffered a stroke and heart attack as a result of using the company’s GranuFlo and/or NaturaLyte at a treatment center in the judicial district of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

DeBord filed his complaint on June 7. Bryant filed hers May 8 in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

It was removed to federal court and transferred to the MDL on July 9. The lawsuit says Pauley had a heart attack two days after receiving treatment at Fresenius Medical Care in Dunbar.

“Dalta Dixie Pauley died as a result of receiving unreasonably dangerous dialysis chemicals that were unfit for the purpose they were designed and sold,” the complaint says.

“GranuFlo was in a dangerous and defective condition at the time of its sale and delivery to Dalta Dixie Pauley. Its defective condition presented a danger to its foreseeable users and consumers, including Dalta Dixie Pauley, during ordinary and foreseeable use of the product.”

The suit alleges six months after Pauley’s death, Fresenius sent an internal memorandum to certain medical directors and physicians warning them of risks associated with NaturaLyte and GranuFlo.

However, the suit says, Fresenius did not warn the federal Food and Drug Administration.

On March 29, 2012, the FDA reported the company’s voluntary Class 1 recall of both the chemicals. The recall warned users of the heightened risk for low blood pressure, low potassium levels, low blood oxygen, high carbon dioxide levels and cardiac arrhythmia, which could lead to sudden death.

“Had the severe health risks associated with Defendants’ NaturaLyte and/or GranuFlo been properly and/or adequately disclosed, the Decedent, Decedent’s treating physicians and/or healthcare facilities would not have purchase and/or used NaturaLyte and/or GranuFlo,” the complaint says.

Representing Bryant is Roger A. Decanio of The Sutter Law Firm in Charleston. Representing DeBord is James A. McKowen of James F. Humphreys & Associates in Charleston.

Bryant attempted to have her case remanded to Kanawha Circuit Court before it was transferred. Her memorandum says Fresenius operates approximately 20 dialysis clinics in the state.

The two lawsuits will join approximately 130 others in the MDL. Judge Douglas P. Woodcock is presiding over them.

From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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