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Illinois Jury Awards $2.2Million To Widower In 1st Humira Infection Case To Go To Trial

CHICAGO - (Mealey's) An Illinois state court jury on May 9 found Abbott Laboratories negligent and ordered it to pay a plaintiff $2,244,063 for a near-fatal infection his late wife suffered while taking the rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira, according to the plaintiff's law firm (Milton Tietz, et al. v. Abbott Laboratories, et al., No. 12-L-002715, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).

(Judgment available. Document #28-130516-018R.)


The firm of Perdue, Kidd & Vickery of Houston said in a press release that the jury in the Cook County Circuit Court awarded the verdict to Milton Tietz. It said the jury found Abbott negligent for not taking reasonable measures to make sure Delores Tietz's doctors had a "high index of suspicion for histoplasmosis," a fungal lung infection suffered by the plaintiff.

The firm said it is the first Humira injury case to go to trial.

According to the firm, Delores Tietz was prescribed Humira, a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker, in October 2009 and took the drug for nearly seven months. In May 2010, she experienced chest pain and fever and several weeks later was diagnosed with histoplasmosis, the firm said.

Warning Delayed?

In 2012, Delores sued Humira manufacturer Abbott Laboratories (now spun off as AbbVie Inc.), alleging that it negligently failed to warn her or her doctor of the risk of histoplasmosis infection, the firm said. It said that in September 2008, the Food and Drug Administration told all manufacturers of TNF blockers to provide new information about the risk of unrecognized, drug-induced histoplasmosis.

The firm alleged that Abbott failed to send warning letters directly to physicians until 10 days after Delores was hospitalized in May 2010.

Delores died in March 2013, and her husband, Milton, was named her personal representative in the suit.

The trial began April 23. Judge William J. Haddad presided.

Immunosuppressant Drug

Humira acts as an immunosuppressant in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Tietz is represented by Jim Purdue Jr., A. Anderson "Andy" Vickery and Fred Shepherd of Perdue, Kidd & Vickery in Houston and Gary D. McCallister of Gary D. McCallister & Associates in Chicago.

Abbott is represented by Michael Foradas, Douglas G. Smith and Renee D. Smith of Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago.

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