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A Door Closed, A Window Opened

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Posted On 11.13.11 by in Blog

It started as an automobile accident. Mr. Gourdine’s car was rear ended by Ms. Crews’ car on the highway at midday. He careened off the roadway and crashed into a tractor trailer, suffering fatal head injuries. Investigation revealed Ms. Crews experienced a sudden attack of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, from taking a combination of two drugs made by Eli Lilly & Co., as prescribed by her doctor.

Mr. Gourdine died because Ms. Crews was impaired, but apparently it wasn’t her fault–she was taking the drugs as ordered, but the drug company wasn’t warning doctors properly about possible adverse effects.

So Mrs. Gourdine sued the drug company. Would the mantle of responsibility be extended to provide compensation to the Gourdines?
No, said Maryland’s highest court. The Court of Appeals said a drug company owes no duty to the general public for its drugs to carry proper warnings, and that the connection between the allegedly bad labeling and the death of Mr. Gourdine was too remote to permit recovery.

Yet the Court recognized there are cases where “foreseeability alone may give rise to liability to a third party because of policy reasons.” So, one door may have been closed, but at the same time, one or more important windows were propped open.

At Ingerman & Horwitz, LLP, we review complex cases like this one in detail, and we are happy to share our analysis with those who might benefit from it. On the Resources page of our website you will soon find a more thorough analysis of Gourdine v. Crews. If you or someone you know has been injured in a similar situation, call us and we’ll be happy to talk about it.

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