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


” The central issue here is whether we will depart from our rule of causation that a plaintiff in a products liability action bears the burden of proving the defendant manufactured or supplied the product that caused the injury. Plaintiffs maintain they are injured due to the ingestion in 1949 of a drug, a synthetic estrogen compound of stilbene derivatives which we shall refer to as DES. Plaintiffs are not able to specifically identify the manufacturer of the drug ingested. Consequently, they commenced this action against a group of drug companies who allegedly manufactured DES in 1949. Plaintiffs claim they are the innocent victims of tortious conduct and that their inability to identify the specific manufacturer of the drug after such a long period of time is due to no fault of their own. They urge that we fashion, as a matter of policy based on justice and fundamental fairness, a fair and equitable remedy by shifting the burden of proof as to who manufactured or supplied the product to the DES manufacturers.

MULCAHY v. ELI LILLY & CO., Leagle, 1986453386NW2d67_1453, April 16, 1986.

The plaintiffs Linda Mulcahy and Michael Mulcahy seek damages personally and as natural guardians for their two children. In 1949 Cleo Rorman was prescribed and ingested DES during her pregnancy with Linda Mulcahy. Plaintiffs allege Linda sustained injury by in utero exposure to DES. Further, they claim such exposure caused Linda to give birth prematurely to her two children in 1973 and 1976 and that they sustained injury as a result.

Plaintiffs commenced their action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. They filed suit against 25 companies alleged to have manufactured and marketed DES at the time of the ingestion. Plaintiffs have set forth theories of recovery against the defendants based upon strict liability, negligence, misrepresentation, breach of warranties, alternate liability, enterprise liability, market share liability, and concert of action. The record reflects that only three defendants sold DES in Ames, Iowa, in 1949; however, plaintiffs request we assess industry-wide liability against all defendants.” …

… read the full paper MULCAHY v. ELI LILLY & CO., on Leagle.

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