MARSHALL – After five months of using the birth control patch Ortho-Evra, 36-year-old Karenetha Easterwood was taken to the hospital with complaints of chest pain and breathing difficulties. It was discovered that she had blood clots in her lungs.
Easterwood filed suit against Johnson and Johnson, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc. and Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development Inc. on Dec. 1 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.
The Fairfield resident states she had the effects of a pulmonary embolism, blood clots and claims her injuries are directly related to her use of the birth control patch Ortho-Evra.
According to the complaint, Ortho-Evra is marketed as the first and only once-a-week birth control patch that is worn on the skin for three consecutive weeks to provide continuous levels of hormones through the skin into the blood stream.
The complaint states the product label lists the most common side effects that lead to discontinuation of the patch as nausea, vomiting, application site reaction, breast symptoms, headache and labile mood.
The plaintiff alleges the defendants misled consumers and failed to warn that the patch is more likely to cause deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, stroke, and death as compared to oral contraceptives.
"Defendants had actual knowledge based upon studies, published reports and clinical experience that its product Ortho Evra created an unreasonable risk of serious bodily injury and death to consumers, or should have known such information," the complaint asserts.
Until January 2008, the defendants mislabeled the drug stating that studies showed mixed results on the adverse effects, the plaintiff claims. The labeling change made in January included a recent study that shows the patch is two times as likely as birth control pills to cause deep vein thrombosis.
Causes of action filed against the defendants include strict products liability, defective manufacture, design, inadequate warning and nonconformance with representations.
The plaintiff states her injuries are due to the defendants' negligence in exercising ordinary care in labeling, providing adequate warnings, and continuing to manufacture, sale and market the birth control patch.
Other causes of action include breach of express and implied warranties, negligent representation and fraud.
The plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $75,000 for medical expenses, conscious pain and suffering, permanent physical injury, mental anguish, emotional distress, physical limitations, lost earnings and loss of future earnings.
Easterwood is also seeking punitive damages arguing the defendants' actions "demonstrate a flagrant disregard for human life."
Longview attorney Douglas C. Monsour of The Monsour Law Firm and Dayton, Ohio, attorney Richard W. Schulte of the Behnke, Martin, and Schulte LLC are representing the plaintiff.
The case should be transferred to the multi-district litigation pending in the Northern District of Ohio for pretrial proceedings (MDL 1742).
U.S. District Judge T. John Ward is assigned to the litigation.
Jury trial is demanded.
Case No 2:08cv00458