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Metabolife Loses Lawsuit Filed by Texas WomanMetabolife Loses Lawsuit Filed by Texas Woman

June 25, 2004

3 Min Read
Metabolife Loses Lawsuit Filed by Texas Woman

HOUSTON--Metabolife International Inc. has been ordered by a Houston jury to pay a 35-year-old Crosby, Texas woman $7.46 million after she suffered a stroke and brain damage as a result of taking the companys ephedra-based weight-loss supplement, according to The San Diego Union Tribune (www.signsonsandiego.com).

The punitive damages were originally higher than $5 million; however, Texas law is liable to cap the punitive damages and, since the jury determined McAllister was partially at fault for not paying attention to a warning label, she may receive a settlement in the region of only $2.7 million, the Tribune said.

McAllisters attorneys said taking Metabolife 356 caused her to suffer a stroke and contributed to ongoing health problems, including right-side numbness in her body (which impairs use of her right hand and causes her right foot to drag), erratic spells of dizziness that prevent her from driving, and short-term memory loss, according to KPRC, a Houston news channel (www.click2houston.com). McAllister will live with the limitations caused by her stroke for the rest of her life, KPRC said.

In addition, attorneys for the woman also accused the company during the seven-day trial of developing Metabolife 356 with Ephedra as a legal form of speed and presented evidence that one or more top officials at Metabolife were arraigned in 1989 on charges of manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine, also known as speed, KPRC reported.

The plaintiffs lawyers also contended that the company attempted to cover up thousands of adverse event reports (AERs) about the diet supplement, KPRC said. While Metabolife originally told state and federal regulatory agencies that it knew of no adverse effects from the product and that it monitored the safety of the drug, the company admitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it had collected 15,000 AERs and had no procedures in place to monitor safety.

The defense argued McAllister's health problems might have been attributable to oral contraceptives and that a doctor had proclaimed McAllisters injuries healed, according to KPRC.

A spokeswoman for Metabolife said the company intends to appeal the verdict, according to the Tribune.

The law firm handling McAllisters case will take five of 45 additional lawsuits against Metabolife, and 15 more against the manufacturers of other dietary supplements formulated with ephedra to trial this year, according to KPRC.

Metabolife has lost two of three personal injury lawsuits brought to trial in the last 18 months. In December 2002, a California court acquitted the company when the jury found no evidence to link Metabolife 356 Upland resident Tom Hendriksens stroke. Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court ordered all Metabolife personal injury lawsuits filed in the state to be heard in a San Diego courtroom.

An attorney who represents a number of consumers filing personal injury lawsuits against Metabolife said a hearing is expected next month to decide the order in which the approximately 100 personal injury cases filed against Metabolife will go to trial, according to the Tribune. According to public documents, Metabolife or its insurers have paid at least $5 million to settle 29 other cases, as reported by the Tribune; however, the Tribune said the attorney indicated Metabolife has made no settlement offer to resolve the California lawsuits.

McAllisters lawsuit is one of a rising number of cases following the banning of ephedra by FDA in April.

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