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M. Brandon Smith
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Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis Jury Trial Awards $3.5 Million

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A woman from Illinois was recently awarded a $3.5 million award by a jury in her case against the manufacturer of Children’s Motrin. She alleged that her severe skin injuries were caused by a rare complication that sometimes occurs with certain over-the-counter medications.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a disease which is sometimes caused by medications containing sulfa-derived ingredients or compounds. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a severe skin reaction which may start out with flu-like symptoms before it develops into the serious inflammation of the skin and mucus membranes for which the disease is most noted. The disease in its most severe, elevated form is called Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis and it causes the blistered areas of the skin to actually die. Three to fifteen percent of all people who develop these syndromes will die from the affliction. The disease may also cause severe vision problems which may even lead to blindness.

The Illinois woman, Karen Robinson, was afflicted by the elevated form of the disease, toxic epidermal necrolysis and she had lesions over thirty percent of her body. Treatment for the disease may take weeks to months and if a medication is found to be the cause, not only must the medication itself be avoided for the remainder of the victim’s life but all medications related to it must also be avoided. Because of her severe complications from the illness and because of the fact that the disease can sometimes cause death, Ms. Robinson decided to sue McNeil Consumer Healthcare which is the company that manufactured the Children’s Motrin which Ms. Robinson claimed caused her injuries.

The jury which heard her case decided to award her $3.5 million as compensation for her injuries. This sum represented not only compensation for her but was likely also a punishment to a drug manufacturer which had printed warnings about the possibility of the skin condition with the knowledge that the risk of consumers developing the condition and possibly dying from it was very real. The jury awarded her the money after hearing her testimony about how her skin burned from the inside out.

However, because the case was tried under Virginia law as Robinson was a Virginia resident when her injuries occurred, and because Virginia maintains a set of contributory negligence law that does not permit any person who has in any way contributed to their injury to collect damages, her award has been reduced and she may not be able to recover the entire $3.5 TENS verdict amount.

Firms and lawyers, however, are continuing to fight for clients who have suffered because of the medications that have lead to these terrible skin disorders. If you or a loved one has suffered from either Stevens-Johnson Syndrome or Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, you may be able to recover for your injuries. Manufacturers of unreasonably dangerous drugs should be made to answer for the potentially deadly side effects their drugs may cause. As an innocent consumer, we trust that the drugs we take are reasonably safe and if they are not, we need to hold the manufacturers of such drugs accountable in order to prevent situations like this one from ever happening again.