Hardin County man sues Bausch & Lomb, Wal-Mart for eye infection

Marilyn Tennissen Mar. 27, 2007, 12:00pm

William Coffey

A Hardin County man has filed a lawsuit against several defendants over an eye infection he claims was caused by ReNu contact solution.

On March 20, plaintiffs Thomas Michael Pouch and Shari Pouch filed the suit in Jefferson County naming Bausch & Lomb Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and three employees of the store's vision center and pharmacy as defendants.

According to the plaintiffs' original petition, Michael Pouch had worn contact lenses since July 2005 and relied on the optometrists and staff at the vision center and the pharmacists of the Wal-Mart Store in Lumberton for recommendations for the proper care and maintenance of his contact lenses and eyesight. The plaintiff said the staff recommended that he use Bausch & Lomb ReNu with MoistureLoc Multi-Purpose Solution.

In early May 2006, Pouch began experiencing pain and loss of vision in his right eye. On May 23, 2006, he consulted with Dr. Katherine Hyde of the Wal-Mart Vision Center who eventually diagnosed him with Fusarium Keratitis, a fungal infection.

"It was subsequently learned by Mr. and Ms. Pouch that Bausch & Lomb and the other defendants knew that Bausch & Lomb's product, ReNu with MoistureLoc Multi-Purpose Solution, was causing or contributing to cause Fusarium Keratitis in individuals around the world," the petition states.

The plaintiff argues that the defendants are negligent because they failed to give adequate warning about the health hazards associated with the product, failed to develop or utilize a substitute solution, failed to properly test the product before release and failed to recall the product in a timely manner.

The defective condition of ReNu made the product unreasonably dangerous at the time it was put on the market, the petition states.

In addition, the defendants breached express and implied warranties and misrepresented the safety of the product.

"Plaintiffs reasonably relied on and were induced by defendants' misrepresentation and/or active concealment in selecting and using ReNu with MoistureLoc Multi-Purpose Solution, and plaintiff Michael Pouch used said product as a result of misrepresentation. As a result, plaintiffs sustained injuries and losses as a direct and proximate result," the petition states. "Defendants conduct was so willful, wanton, malicious and reckless as to reveal a conscious indifference to the clear risk of blindness, death or serious bodily injury, and therefore warrants punitive damages."

Plaintiffs argue that the misrepresentations and concealment of facts by the defendants were in violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act of the Texas Business and Commerce Code.

Michael and Shari Pouch are seeking damages for physical pain and mental anguish, medical care, physical impairment and disfigurement, loss of vision, fear of loss of vision, loss of earning capacity, loss of consortium, legal fees and actual compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages.

The petition says that Jefferson County is the appropriate venue for the litigation because two of the defendants, Michael Leduc and Robert Allen Jackson, are residents of Jefferson County.

William B. Coffey of Coffey & Brown LLP in Beaumont is representing the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs are requesting a trial by jury.

The case has been assigned to the 60th District Court of Judge Gary Sanderson.

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