2005 DES Case: Gassmann v. Eli Lilly & Co.

Abstract

… “On September 14, 1968, Gassman was born in Mineola, New York. In her early teens, she learned from her mother that she had been exposed to DES in utero. In October 1990, almost ten years after learning of her DES exposure, Gassman married her husband, Daniel Gassman. Less than a year later, Mr. Gassman was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer that starts in lymphatic tissue. As a result of this diagnosis, Mr. Gassman was required to undergo chemotherapy treatments that would ultimately leave him sterile. Prior to the beginning of his treatment, Mr. Gassman had samples of his sperm frozen so that he and his wife could attempt artificial insemination at a later date.

GASSMANN v. ELI LILLY & CO., Leagle, 2005610407FSupp2d203_1585, United States District Court, District of Columbia, December 29, 2005.

Between July 1997 and June 1998, Gassman underwent three Intra-Uterine Inseminations with her husband’s frozen sperm. Ultimately, none of the three inseminations resulted in pregnancy. Prior to these procedures, in May 1997, Gassman met with Dr. Serena Chen for an initial fertility consultation. Dr. Chen’s notes from that consultation indicate that she “reviewed with patients the Gassmans concerns about DES exposure, such as increased risk for poor pregnancy outcome, such as ectopic pregnancy, pre-term labor, cervical incompetence, etc.”. Gassman denies that she was told in any definitive manner that DES caused her infertility or even that she was infertile.

In or about June 1999, Dr. Chen told Gassman that she “had a T-shaped uterus from DES exposure.”. Dr. Chen’s medical records from July 5, 1999, indicate that she “reviewed DES” and its “effect on fertility.” Gassman denies that Dr. Chen ever indicated that Gassman’s T-shaped uterus or her DES exposure were related to her problems becoming pregnant. In fact, Gassman alleges that her doctors informed her that her chances of becoming pregnant using her husband’s sperm were still good. She states that, at least until September 2000, she believed that her difficulties becoming pregnant were not a result of her in utero DES exposure, but rather were “due to her husband’s chemotherapy.

Gassman claims that it was not until 2002, “at the earliest,” that she ever “had the slightest idea or suspicion that her injuries or infertility were caused by the wrongful conduct of the company that made the DES [her] mother took while pregnant with her, or that anyone was suing over DES injuries, or that the manufacturer had done anything wrong.” Gassman indicates that she did not attempt to educate herself about the effects of DES “because there was nothing I knew to investigate. . . . I knew I was affected by DES, but there was still very positive a chance to become pregnant. There was nothing to investigate, it was a side effect of being born.” She also suggests that she did not investigate the possibility of a lawsuit because she “thought the company had tested the drug before they put it on the market,” and because she “believed the drug saved her life.” She states that she first learned about DES lawsuits in 2002. Prior to that date, she alleges that she never researched DES on the internet, never read legal or medical magazines about DES, never watched any television program about DES, never listened to any radio show about DES, and never joined any DES support group.” … 

… Read the full paper GASSMANN v. ELI LILLY & CO., on Leagle.

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