January 18, 2011
A recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire addressed a number of issues regarding defective design of an anti-inflammatory drug, in upholding a jury verdict of over $21 million in favor of the plaintiff. See Bartlett v. Mut. Pharm. Co., Civ. No. 08‑cv‑358‑JL, 2011 DNH 004 (D.N.H. Jan. 5, 2011). The plaintiff alleged that her use of the defendant's drug "sulindac" had caused her to suffer severe and permanent injuries, including blindness. Specifically, the plaintiff had contracted Stevens-Johnson Syndrome ("SJS"), progressing to toxic epidermal necrolysis ("TEN"), as a result of her use of sulindac. The plaintiff asserted claims of strict liability for defective design, strict liability for failure to warn, fraud, and negligence under state law. The district court granted the manufacturer's motion for summary judgment on all but the plaintiff's defective design claim, which was the sole cause of action proceeding to trial. The jury found in the plaintiff's favor and awarded her $21.06 million in compensatory damages, including $16.5 million for pain and suffering. Following the verdict, the defendant manufacturer renewed its motion for judgment as a matter of law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b), arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the plaintiff's claim.