Kilgore woman claims contact solution failed to disinfect, files product liability suit against maker

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Feb. 20, 2008, 8:15am

MARSHALL -- After 35 years wearing contact lenses, Kimlyn Cline developed an infection in her left eye. Treated for a simple eye infection, the condition worsened and now she is in need of corneal transplant surgery.

The Kilgore resident believes her eye infection was caused by using the contact lens disinfectant Complete Moisture Plus Multi-Purpose solution.

Cline filed a product liability suit against the solution's manufacturer, Advanced Medical Optics Inc., on Feb 13 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

As a long-time contact lens user, Cline states that she has always been diligent about disinfecting her contact lenses. She states that she is aware of the necessary procedures for cleaning and disinfecting her contacts and has complied with the instructions provided by doctors and on the solution labeling.

Despite her efforts, Cline developed an eye infection in her left eye in March 2007. She believes the eye infection symptoms increased with her use of Complete Moisture Plus Multi-Purpose solution. After seeking medical attention, the condition worsened. She was sent to a corneal specialist and diagnosed with Acanthamoeba Keratitis, a rare infection that is mostly found in contact lens users.

According to the court records, her infection remains unresolved. Cline states that her eye specialist determined that Cline needs to proceed with a corneal transplant surgery to improve her vision. However, the doctor cannot proceed with the surgery until her infection clears.

Cline alleges the risks from the disinfectant solution was "grossly disproportionate to those of other contact solutions on the market but despite their knowledge Advanced Medical Optical did nothing to eliminate or mitigate those risks." The complaint states that industry-wide contact solution manufacturers recognize that peroxide-based lens disinfectant systems are the only commonly used solutions effective against the organism that caused her infection.

Cline states that Advanced Medical Optical knew of the defects with the product but continued to design, manufacturer, market and sell the defective product. The suit states that the defendant failed to warn, or inadequately warned of the dangerous characteristics of the product. Further, the plaintiff states the defendant failed to adequately provide safe and proper instructions on the use of the contact lens disinfectant.

Causes of action filed against the company included, strict liability for design, manufacturing, and marketing defects, breach of implied warranties, and negligence. In addition, the plaintiff asserts the defendant violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act because it knew the disinfecting solution was not effective killing the organisms that caused the plaintiff's infection. The complaint also alleges Advanced Medical Optical misrepresented their product's characteristics, standards, quality and failed to disclose complete product information.

Cline is seeking damages for past and future medical expenses, disfigurement, lost income and wages, loss of wage earning capacity, pain, vision loss, visual disturbances, mental and emotional anguish, attorney's fees and court costs. Arguing the defendant's actions involved an extreme degree of risk, the plaintiff is also seeking an award of exemplary damages to punish and deter "such unconscionable and irresponsible conduct in the future."

Tyler attorneys Michael Ace and Randell C. Roberts are representing the plaintiff in her allegations.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward has been assigned to the litigation.

Advanced Medical Optical voluntary recalled eighteen lots of the product in November 2006 and voluntary issued a full recall in May 2007 in response to information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention regarding a greater risk for the eye infection at issue.

In 2006, Advanced Medical Optical reported a net gain of $79.5 million but due to the impact of the recalls, the company had a net loss of $192.9 million for 2007. In response to the loss, the company is reducing fixed costs including reducing its workforce by 4 percent or 150 positions.

Case No.: 2:08cv00062

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