1988 DES Case: Smith v. Eli Lilly & Co.

The present consolidated appeal arises out of a pharmaceutical product liability action brought by plaintiff against various drug companies seeking recovery for injuries allegedly caused by her mother’s ingestion of diethylstilbestrol (DES). The trial court granted the drug companies’ joint motion for summary judgment as to counts I through IX of plaintiff’s second-amended complaint, but denied the motion as to count X alleging a strict liability cause of action based upon the market share theory. Other companies were granted summary judgment on all counts of the complaint as they were determined not to be part of the relevant DES market. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm in part and reverse in part and remand the cause for further proceedings.

SMITH v. ELI LILLY & CO., Leagle, 1988174173IllApp3d1_1174, May 25, 1988.

In 1952, Elizabeth Smith became pregnant with Sandra Smith, the plaintiff in this case. Having had a history of difficulty with pregnancy, Mrs. Smith consulted with her physician, Dr. Jack E. Davis of the Field Clinic in Chicago, Illinois. In March 1953, he prescribed DES, which Mrs. Smith took throughout the remainder of her pregnancy.

At her deposition, Mrs. Smith described the medication as a “white tablet,” “smaller than an aspirin” to be taken three times a day. On July 13, 1953, plaintiff was delivered by cesarean section.

Twenty-five years later, in September 1978, after undergoing a dilation and curettage, cervical biopsy, and excisional biopsy of the vaginal wall, plaintiff was diagnosed as having a form of cancer medically referred to as clear cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina, and shortly thereafter, underwent radical surgery. Plaintiff allegedly developed this cancer as a result of her in utero exposure to DES.

Mrs. Smith obtained her DES prescription from the Field Clinic pharmacy. While the pharmacy’s records indicate that she was administered “Tab 98,” 25-milligram tablets of DES, the identity of the specific manufacturer of the product was not disclosed. Moreover, Dr. Davis and the purchaser of the products stocked by the pharmacy are deceased.

In August or September 1980, plaintiff filed her initial complaint against more than 100 drug companies which allegedly distributed DES to the Field Clinic, 70 of which filed appearances. In November 1982, plaintiff filed a second-amended complaint consisting of 11 counts Counts I through VI sound in, respectively, negligence, strict liability, breach of express warranty, fraud, breach of implied warranty, violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and counts VII and VIII, in conspiracy. These counts pray for assessment of damages on various bases of “concerted action,” “joint and several” liability and “joint enterprise” liability. Counts IX and X allege theories of negligence and strict liability, respectively, and invoke “market share” as the means of determining damages. The thrust of plaintiff’s causes of action is the drug companies’ alleged failure to properly test DES and to adequately warn of its dangers.” …

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

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