1986 DES Case: Hadden v. Eli Lilly & Co.


Plaintiff Sharon P. Hadden, whose husband sues per quod, brought this pharmaceutical products liability action against defendant Eli Lilly and Company claiming that she sustained in utero gynecological injury as a result of her mother’s ingestion of diethylstilbestrol (DES) during the pregnancy. She appeals from a summary judgment dismissing her complaint as untimely filed. We reverse.”…

HADDEN v. ELI LILLY & CO., Leagle, 1986924208NJSuper716_1840, March 21, 1986.

… “For purposes of considering defendant’s summary judgment motion, the following facts may be assumed. Plaintiff was born on February 11, 1954. Her mother, Dorothy Prizer, had, during the course of her pregnancy and pursuant to her physician’s prescription, taken a DES product manufactured by defendant. In July 1974 plaintiff, who until that time had been asymptomatic, underwent a routine premarital gynecological examination which revealed the presence of abnormal cell growth in her cervix. Surgery ensued. Her physician, suspecting DES as the cause of the problem, reviewed her mother’s medical records and ascertained that she had taken defendant’s DES product while pregnant with plaintiff. The physician promptly discussed these matters with plaintiff and her family, explaining that plaintiff had to be closely watched because of the continuing DES risks. The trial judge found that plaintiff knew by August 1974 that she had been injured in utero by her mother’s ingestion of DES. That finding was adequately supported by the evidence adduced at the preliminary evidential hearing.

The complaint was filed in October 1976, two years and three months after the date on which plaintiff was found to have discovered her cause of action. Rejecting plaintiff’s argument that under N.J.S.A. 2A:14-21, she had until February 11, 1977, her twenty-third birthday, for the timely filing of her complaint, the trial judge concluded that since she had already reached her majority at the time she discovered the cause of action, it then accrued and the two-year statute of limitations started to run.

This holding rested upon the perception that the tolling provision of N.J.S.A. 2A:14-21 was inapplicable. We disagree. It is our conclusion that under the circumstances here, the tolling statute both applies and is controlling.” …

… continue reading the full paper HADDEN v. ELI LILLY & CO. on Leagle.

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