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$5 Million Verdict in Gadolinium Case Upheld by U.S. Court of Appeals


This month, a unanimous decision from the Sixth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a $5 million verdict in favor of an Ohio man who alleged that he and his doctors were not warned that a commonly used MRI contrast dye contained gadolinium—a toxic metal that had the potential to cause a serious and debilitating disease.

The plaintiff, Paul Decker, was represented in this case by Ashcraft & Gerel partners Christopher Tisi and Michelle Parfitt.

The dangers of gadolinium

In 2005 while undergoing an MRI procedure, Mr. Decker was given a dose of Omniscan, a gadolinium-based contrast agent manufactured by GE Healthcare. However, Mr. Decker was in kidney failure. This condition combined with gadolinium exposure lead him to develop  Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF). NSF is a debilitating condition which caused his skin and muscles to harden and his arms and legs to lock and become immobile.

Shortly after Mr. Decker’s MRI, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated that doctors be told of the possibility of this debilitating disease arising when patients in kidney failure are given Omniscan.  As a result, doctors stopped giving Omniscan to kidney patients and NSF has not been reported.

Seeking justice from GE Healthcare

Ashcraft & Gerel partners Christopher Tisi and Michelle Parfitt  worked with  Mr. Decker and his family and  sued GE Healthcare for failure to warn of what they knew in 2005—namely that gadolinium would likely lead to NSF in cases like Mr. Decker’s. The lawsuit included evidence that other prior kidney patients developed reactions similar to Mr. Decker’s, but that GE Healthcare failed to investigate or disclose.

In March 2013, Mr. Decker’s case was tried before a federal jury in Cleveland Ohio.  After hearing the evidence, the jury found in favor of the Deckers and awarded them $5 million. Following the verdict, GE Healthcare appealed to the Sixth Circuit alleging that both the trial judge and the jury made multiple mistakes.

In an important and unanimous opinion, the Sixth Circuit upheld the Decker’s verdict and rejected each of GE’s arguments.

The court noted that GE Healthcare made a “number of disparate arguments” against the jury’s verdict and the trial judge’s management of the case.  Upon reviewing the record, the Court of Appeals concluded that “each argument fails.”

Ashcraft & Gerel would like to recognize their local counsel, William Hawal, Peter Brodhead, and Peter Weinberger of the firm of Spangenberg, Shibley ad Leiber in Cleveland Ohio for their efforts as local counsel. The firm would also like to congratulate both Mr. Tisi and Ms. Parfitt for a job well done.

But most of all, we would like to express our gratitude to the Decker family for having the courage to stand up to GE Healthcare, helping to ensuring no one else has to suffer as Mr. Decker did after being needlessly harmed by gadolinium.

Ashcraft & Gerel

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