Chicago Nurse Files Lawsuit Over Focus-Group Mishap

CHICAGO (CN) – What started as a simple focus group turned into a nightmare for a Chicago-area woman who claims in a lawsuit that she was injected with an unknown substance by a medical device that was supposed to be a dummy.

In a complaint filed on Monday in the Cook County Circuit Court, Bethany Jakubowski says she was invited to participate in the group by a fellow University of Chicago nurse to earn some extra cash on their lunch break.

Jakubowski says that when she arrived at the office of defendant Focus Pointe Global, which was overseeing the group, she was “given an infusion mechanism that she was told was inoperative,” says the complaint, and was told to put it on her arm.

Jakubowski’s attorney, Daniel Alholm of Discepolo LLP in Chicago, said the device was made so that “a patient could put it on themselves to get an infusion instead of going to the hospital,” and the group of three was supposed to test the weight and function of the dummy devices.

According to the complaint, Jakubowski “was never told she would be punctured or injected with any substances as part of her participation in the focus group.”

But Alholm said when his client put the device on, “she drew blood.”

The operational device “punctured her skin and injected her with an unknown substance,” the complaint says.

“We have no idea what she was injected with,” Alholm said, but the complaint says Jakubowski saw markings on the device that stated it had been exposed to ethylene oxide.

The chemical is used to sterilize medical equipment and chronic exposure can lead to cancer, reproductive effects, and neurotoxicity.

Alholm said, “there are studies out there that show ethylene oxide can damage unborn children.”

Alholm said when Jakubowski was injured “they stopped the focus group” and a representative from the marketing company ZS Associates took her out into the hallway.

“We don’t know who was on the other side of the two-way mirror,” Alholm said.

Later, Jakubowski was contacted by Abbott Laboratories.

Six months pregnant at the time, Jakubowski “began to experience complications with her pregnancy, including pre-term labor. The plaintiff was ordered to take steroids in an attempt to develop her unborn child’s lungs in hope he would go full term,” the complaint says.

Her son Owen was born in March with multiple birth defects. Alholm said the cause of the birth defects is unknown.

Jakubowski is suing Abbott Laboratories, Focus Pointe Global and ZS Associates for negligence and infliction of emotional distress.

None of the companies have responded to requests for comment on the lawsuit from Courthouse News.

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