Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Saturday, February 24, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, February 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Disfigured Teen Has Case Against Makers of Advil

(CN) - A man who blames Advil after losing most of his skin and having his eyes sewn shut at age 16 has a negligence case against Pfizer and Wyeth, a federal judge ruled.

Lamar Hodges Jr. says he was hospitalized in Minnesota on June 28, 2010, soon after he began taking Advil, when his sore throat he had developed made it difficult to breathe and to swallow.

Pustules and a rash on the black 16-year-old's face meanwhile became lesions that spread to his neck, trunk and extremities.

Hodges says he was suffering from a severe adverse reaction to Advil known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), a form of toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN).

Doctors transferred the teen twice as blisters spread to about 35 percent of his body, according to the complaaint. By his second day at the Regions Hospital Burn Center in St. Paul, the lesions and blisters allegedly reached his fingers.

Most of his skin was sloughing by the time the teen underwent a July 7 surger to have dead tissue removed from his buttocks and anterior trunk, along with his hair, according to the complaint.

Aftter many more surgeries, the teenager was left permanently scarred with essentially no intact skin on his face, neck, scalp, trunk, back, buttocks, arms, and legs, according to the complaint.

Hodges says he had his eyelids sewn shut to lessen scar tissue and save at least some of his remaining vision. He will remain visibly disfigured for the rest of his life.

The 57-page federal complaint Hodges filed against Advil's manufacturers - Pfizer Inc., Wyeth LLC and Wyeth Consumer Healthcare Inc. - appeared on Nov. 25, 2014.

Hodges says the companies knowingly failed to inform consumers about the increased risk of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome in children and African Americans who take Advil.

Sympathizing with the "undeniably horrific" condition that gave rise to the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery preserved some claims Friday.

"Hodges' complaint includes a detailed history of incidents and circumstances that he alleges put defendants on notice that certain populations, including young people and African Americans, were more likely to suffer a SJS / TEN reaction from Advil," Montgomery wrote. "These allegations are sufficient to survive defendants' 12(b)(6) motion [to dismiss]."

In tossing only Hodges' manufacturing-defect claim, the court noted that the plaintiff has acknowledged the count's "tension with his failure to warn, negligence and fraud-based claims."

An attorney for Hodges argued "he included the defect claim to secure relevant discovery before conceding that such a claim was not feasible," the ruling states.

"This approach contracts federal pleading standards and cannot be allowed," Montgomery added.

The court deferred ruling on the remaining claims, however, allowing Hodges seven days to file a formal motion to amend his complaint, which he informally requested at oral argument.

Pfizer said in a statement through a spokeswoman that it plans to "vigorously defend against any surviving claims in this case."

"While we have great sympathy for the plaintiff and his family, we are pleased with the court's decision finding deficiencies in the complaint," the company said. "Advil has provided safe and effective pain relief, when appropriately used, to millions of consumers over the past 30 years, and its FDA-approved label contains accurate, science-based information on the medicine's benefits and risks."Pfizer, which bought Wyeth in 2009, reportedly reaped more than $49.6 billion in revenue last year.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.