$16.5 Million Verdict in Fentanyl Pain Patch Lawsuit

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by Heygood Orr and Pearson

Heygood, Orr & Pearson represented the family of a 38-year old woman who died on February 15, 2004 while using a defective Duragesic Fentanyl patch.  The case was filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Chicago, Illinois and assigned docket number 04L5351.  The case went to trial in late October 2008 and the jury returned a verdict on November 17, 2008 for $16,500,000.00 in favor of the plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs contended that Janice DiCosolo, 38, a chronic RSD pain patient, died as a result of the malfunction of a Duragesic pain patch manufactured and sold by Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Alza Corportion, both Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries.  Duragesic contains the drug Fentanyl which is an opioid narcotic pain medicine that is 100 times stronger than morphine.  The Fentanyl is in a gel which is contained in a reservoir between the two sides of the patch.  Each patch contains a rate control membrane that is supposed to control the amount of Fentanyl delivered to the patient.  Each patch is to be worn for 3 days.  Ms. DiCosolo had been using the patches as prescribed by her physician for several months.  Ms. DiCosolo purchased a box of Duragesic patches on February 12, 2004.  This box of Duragesic was from a particular batch of patches (Lot 192) that had been the subject of customer complaints of leaking for over a month.  On February 14th, Ms. DiCosolo was using the first patch from the box of patches from Lot 192. Plaintiffs contended that this patch leaked or otherwise malfunctioned and delivered a fatal level of Fentanyl.  Ms. DiCosolo was found dead in the early morning hours of February 15th.  On February 16th, all patches in Lot 192 were recalled by Janssen and Alza.  Several days after his wife’s death, Mr. DiCosolo received a letter from the pharmacy advising him of the recall.

Janice was survived by her husband John DiCosolo, 39, a police officer by profession, and Janice and John’s three children, John, Jr., 23, Kristina, 18, and Anthony, 13.

Defendants contended that only a small percentage of the patches from Lot 192 were defective, that Plaintiffs had no evidence that Ms. DiCosolo used a defective patch, and that Ms. DiCosolo did not die from Fentanyl, but instead because of the combination of CNS depressant drugs she was taking in the days leading up to her death.

The trial lasted 3 weeks and the jury (six men and six women) deliberated for 8 hours before rendering their verdict.  The DiCosolo case was the second Duragesic case where Heygood, Orr & Pearson prevailed on behalf of a client who lost a loved one due to a defective fentanyl patch.  In 2007, a federal court jury in Florida awarded $5.5 million to the family of 28-year-old Adam Hendleson, who died while using a Duragesic patch that was prescribed for hip pain.

The Law Offices of Heygood, Orr & Pearson is a Texas-based civil litigation firm representing businesses and individuals in matters involving personal injury claims, contract disputes, business torts, professional negligence and more.  Should you wish to discuss Heygood, Orr & Pearson potentially representing you or your company in a civil litigation matter, please contact the firm at info@hop-law.com.