Levaquin Lawsuit Continues as Third Bellwether Case in Minnesota MDL
A lawsuit involving alleged Levaquin tendon rupture proceeds as the third bellwether case in the federal MDL in the District of Minnesota. Judge John R. Tunheim recently denied defendants, Johnson & Johnson, summary judgment, stating a jury must determine whether the drug’s label provided adequate warning of the risk of Levaquin side effects. Judge Tunheim also ruled that a jury must hear fraud claims, citing public benefit.
Doctor in Levaquin tendon rupture lawsuit was unaware of the risk
The plaintiff in this Levaquin tendon rupture lawsuit, Clifford Straka, alleges that he was prescribed Levaquin by his doctor in 2006, after being diagnosed with pneumonia. At the time, Straka’s physician, Dr. Katayoun Baniriah, stated she was unaware of the risk of Levaquin tendon rupture associated with this antibiotic. Dr. Baniriah did not recall whether she read the warning label at the time she prescribed this medication.
Straka took his 10-day regimen for nine days before experiencing bilateral Achilles tendon ruptures. As a result of his injuries, Straka filed his Levaquin tendon rupture lawsuit, claiming both product liability and negligent failure to warn. The plaintiff claims that the manufacturer of Levaquin, Johnson & Johnson, did not provide adequate warnings of Levaquin side effects on their product packaging.
Johnson & Johnson defend their warning of Levaquin tendon rupture
The risk of Levaquin tendon rupture has been included on product packaging since 1997. In 2001, the warning label was modified to include the additional risk of Levaquin side effects when the patient was receiving a concomitant steroid, particularly if the patient was elderly. This warning label was in effect at the time Straka was prescribed Levaquin.
As a result of their efforts to warn consumers and doctors of the risk of Levaquin side effects, Johnson & Johnson requested a summary judgment in this Levaquin tendon rupture lawsuit. The defendant claimed that failure-to-warn claims fail because the doctor admitted she did not read the full label prior to prescribing the drug to Straka. However, Judge Tunheim ruled that the determination of adequate warning should be made by a jury in this case.
By the same token, Judge Tunheim determined that a jury in this Levaquin tendon rupture trial must rule whether the defendant violated the Minnesota Consumer Fraud Act, as Straka charges. The judge cited public benefit in this process, stating that this Levaquin tendon rupture lawsuit “may indirectly cause defendants to redress a public safety hazard, a result that would benefit the public.” The court also rejected the claim made by the defendant that the current Levaquin label includes the strongest possible warning about the risk of Levaquin tendon rupture.