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Spangenberg Shibley & Liber, LLP | Apr 10, 2015

Sixth Circuit Upholds $5 Million Verdict Against GE for Failure to Warn of Contrast Agent Risks

Categories: News

The Sixth Circuit has rejected GE Healthcare Inc.'s bid for a new trial in the case ofPaul Decker, et al v. GE Healthcare Inc., finding that an Ohio court did not err after a jury ordered GE to pay $5 million for failing to warn a kidney patient about the health risks of its gadolinium-based contrast agent, Omniscan.

The appeals panel rejected all of GE's arguments in favor of a new trial, including its contention that U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster was required to recuse himself from Mr. and Mrs. Decker's entire case — not just the patient's motion for prejudgment interest — because of his firsthand knowledge of the parties' settlement efforts.

The panel also found that Judge Polster did not err in excluding certain of GE’s expert witnesses and expert opinions on the basis that the experts were unqualified on that their opinions were “methodologically flawed.” Other GE arguments in favor of a new trial were rejected by the panel.

The Deckers are represented by attorneys Christopher Tisi and Michelle Parfitt at Ashcraft & Gerel and by the Spangenberg Law Firm. Our team included attorneys Peter Brodhead and William Hawal.

We are pleased that the unanimous jury verdict against GE Healthcare regarding its Omniscan product causing this dreadful manmade disease is now finalized. The Sixth Circuit heard and soundly rejected all of GE Healthcare's strained arguments. The facts, the science and the law have prevailed.

Mr. Decker, who sadly passed away before this judgment was released, developed nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) in 2012 after receiving Omniscan in 2005 as a contrast agent in connection with an MRI. NSF is a crippling fibrotic disease caused by the release of toxic gadolinium for the contrast agent when there is prolonger retention in the body, as can occur in patients with kidney impairment. Evidence developed in this litigation demonstrated that GE was aware of this risk since the late 1980s.

Mr. and Mrs. Decker sued GE in Ohio federal court in 2012, accusing the company of failing to provide him with adequate warning about the health risks. Their case was later merged with larger multidistrict litigation assigned to Judge Polster. While other cases settled, the Deckers' was the first to go to trial. In March of 2013, a jury awarded them $5 million in damages on their failure-to-warn claims. The case is Paul Decker, et al v. GE Healthcare Inc., et al, case number 13-4002, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.