ATTORNEYS AT LAW
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Case Type: Products Liability
Verdict: $212 Million
Injuries: Botox injections intended to treat writer’s tremor caused a progressive loss of brain function, incontinence, and loss of speech requiring 24-hour care.
Attorneys: Steve W. Bricker and Christopher Anderson; Richmond; Ray C. Chester, Austin, Texas
Following a two-week trial against Botox manufacturer, Allergan, a Richmond federal jury awarded $212 million dollars to Vietnam Veteran Douglas M. Ray, Jr. of Fredericksburg, VA. Mr. Ray had sought treatment at McGuire Veteran’s Hospital for help with an uncontrollable tremor in his hand.
Best known for its cosmetic use, Botox was also branded to relieve symptoms of muscle tension and spasm. Botox works by blocking the nerve signals to the muscles causing them to go flaccid. The effects are temporary, however, often requiring follow-up injections to maintain the desired effects. As a result of its labeled uses, the plaintiffs treating physician used Botox to treat him. Plaintiff received a total of three injections over a seven month period. Immediately following his third injection, plaintiff almost immediately became confused and lethargic. Progressive loss of brain function followed and plaintiff eventually required 24-hour care.
The key to the case was plaintiff’s treating physician, Dr. Anna Hirstova, who was determined to find out why plaintiff deteriorated so quickly. Dr. Hirstova found that the injection had migrated from the original injection site and set off an auto-immune disorder that attacked plaintiff’s brain. Her investigation further revealed that European health regulators had issued a warning to European physicians about the toxic systemic side effects of the drug. As a result of that warning Allergan generated a series of internal emails discussing the warning and contemplating whether the company should do the responsible thing and issue a similar warning world-wide.
The award, which contained $200 million in punitive damages, was ultimately reduced by the U.S. District Judge in part because the amount exceeded the cap in Virginia law for punitive damages. Final judgment was entered for $12.35 million.
Source: Virginia Lawyer’s Weekly: http://valawyersweekly.com/2012/01/09/ray.-v-allergan-inc-2/