Fresenius Medical Care (NYSE:FMS) last week won the 1st bellwether trial in a series of product liability lawsuits brought over its GranuFlo and NaturaLyte dialysis drugs, after a Massachusetts jury found that the plaintiff’s estate failed to prove its case.
The trial was the 1st case to go to trial among a group of plaintiffs who declined to enter a $250 million settlement struck a year ago in the multi-district litigation proceeding in federal court in the Bay State.
The GranuFlo and Naturalyte products were used to lower the acidity of patients’ blood during dialysis treatments. The lawsuits in the MDL generally allege that the dialysates’ high concentration of acetone led to abnormally high levels of bicarbonate in the blood, leading to fatal heart problems and strokes.
The jury in the 1st bellwether outside the MDL settlement found March 2 that plaintiff Florella Dial, the widow of Carley Dial, failed to prove “that the use of NaturaLyte in Carley Dial’s hemodialysis treatments after receipt of his January 23, 2012 test results was the proximate cause of his death,” according to court documents.
Judge Douglas Woodlock of the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts found the next day that “there is no predicate for plaintiff’s theory of action asserting a claim under North Carolina law for unfair and deceptive trade practices. Accordingly, judgment shall enter for the defendants on that claim,” according to the documents.
The FDA launched a Class I recall of FMC’s GranuFlo product in March 2012, after obtaining a copy of the memo, and and began investigating Fresenius later that year, after more than 900 patients experienced heart attacks at Fresenius dialysis centers.