Xenadrine Maker Suing Baltimore Orioles 39027

January 5, 2004

3 Min Read
Xenadrine Maker Suing Baltimore Orioles


Xenadrine Maker Suing Baltimore Orioles

MANASQUAN, N.J.In recentyears, ephedra manufacturers have experienced a tidal wave of lawsuits filed byconsumers and state attorneys general. The shoe is now on the other foot.Nutraquest Inc., formerly known as Cytodyne Technologies Inc., filed a motionDec. 1 on behalf of its president, Robert Chinery Jr., for leave to sue theBaltimore Orioles for accusing Cytodyne of causing Steve Bechlers death.

The story began in February 2003 when Bechler, the teamsrelief pitcher, collapsed during spring training camp in Florida; officialslater found a bottle of ephedra-containing Xenadrine RFA-1 in his locker. At thetime, the chief medical examiner for Broward County, Fla., reported he wasalmost certain ephedra played a role in Bechlers death. In my opinion, theephedra raised his body temperature, leading to heat stroke, said JoshuaPerper, M.D. And it was not a particularly strenuous exercise carried out andnot a particularly hot day. He added, though, that Bechler had a history ofheat strokes in addition to being overweight, having an enlarged heart andliving with borderline high blood pressure.

Perper later reported Bechler died of multiple organ failureand with a temperature of 108 degrees. In a follow-up toxicology exam, Perperreported the significant amount of ephedra discovered in Bechlers system atthe time of death played a role in his demise.

Nutraquests proposed lawsuit, filed in the U.S. DistrictCourt for the Southern District of Florida, seeks to sue the Orioles for itscontribution in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Kiley Bechler, the deceasedswife and executor. Nutraquests lawsuit is based on the findings by forensicpathologist and former New York City medical examiner Michael M. Baden, M.D.,who concluded Xenadrine did not cause or contribute to Bechlers death.

I disagree as to the cause of this heat stroke, saidBaden in testimony at a July congressional meeting on ephedra (http://energycommerce.house.gov/108/Hearings/07232003hearing1021/Chinery1640.htm). Mr. Bechlers poor health, vigorous exercise in hot,muggy weather, severe obesity, abnormal fatty liver, untreated high bloodpressure and enlarged heart are competent factors in and of themselves to becauses of heat stroke. The coincidental toxicological finding of ephedrine,which is not known to produce heat stroke, in my opinion, should not have beenlinked to the death by the medical examiner.

It is my opinion, to a reasonable degree of medicalcertainty ... Xenadrine did not cause or contribute to Mr. Bechlers death,and that proper and prompter treatment with intravenous fluids and cold wrapsimmediately after he collapsed but was still conscious may have prevented Mr.Bechlers death.

Nutraquests motion seeks to clarify the issue of Bechlersdeath and ephedra consumption. Obviously, it is a tragedy when a man dies atsuch a young age, Chinery said. However, the conduct of the BaltimoreOrioles is tragic, as well. In this case, there is no credible evidencewhatsoever to support the theory that Xenadrine RFA-1 contributed to Mr. Bechlersdeath in any way. He said no study has linked heat stroke to ephedra use, andBechlers death could have been avoided if the Orioles had taken theappropriate actions following his collapse. The only way similar tragediescan be prevented is to address the real causative factors, as opposed toscapegoating a company for financial gain, Chinery added.

The Orioles disputed Nutraquests allegations. Our peopleresponded admirably to the situation the day [Bechler] became ill in Florida,said Russell Smouse, Orioles general counsel, in an interview with USA Today (www.usatoday.com/). To suggest the Orioles in any way are responsible is an irresponsiblecontention.

Bechlers camp also came forward with a statement after thesuit was filed. Chinerys actions are of a man who feels the noose offederal court litigation tightening around his neck, David Meiselman, KileyBechlers attorney, told USA Today.

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