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Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
October 20, 1994, ARGUED ; March 28, 1996, DECIDED
No. 32 Eastern District Appeal Docket 1994
[*559] [**889] OPINION OF THE COURT
MR. JUSTICE FLAHERTY 1
DECIDED: March 28, 1996
This is an appeal by allowance from an en banc decision of the Superior Court which affirmed a judgment entered in favor of the appellee, Upjohn Company (Upjohn), in a negligence and strict liability action brought by the appellant, Charles D. Hahn. The factual background of the case is as follows.
From 1977 to 1980, appellant was [***2] treated for back pain by Dr. Howard A. Richter. Treatment included several surgical procedures and a number of intrathecal (into the spine) injections of Depo-Medrol, a drug manufactured by Upjohn. A package insert accompanying Depo-Medrol provided warning to physicians that arachnoiditis, a scarring of nerves in the lower back, had been reported when the drug was administered intrathecally. Also, intrathecal injection was not one of the Federal Drug Administration approved usages for the drug.
Appellant developed arachnoiditis. In an effort to remove scar tissues associated with that condition, further surgery was performed, but, in the course thereof, a nerve root was severed resulting in serious and permanent injury.
[*560] In 1982, suit was filed against Dr. Richter and Upjohn. A release in favor of Dr. Richter was later executed in exchange for valuable consideration. In 1989, the claim against Upjohn proceeded to trial. Appellant attempted to prove that his arachnoiditis was caused by Depo-Medrol and that Upjohn failed to provide adequate warnings to physicians regarding intrathecal use of the drug. Extensive evidence was adduced by both parties as to causation and as to the adequacy [***3] of warnings provided by the package insert. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Upjohn, and judgment was entered accordingly.
At issue is whether the trial court erred in its instruction to the jury regarding applicable theories of liability. An instruction was given that liability could be found if appellant's injuries were caused by a negligent failure of Upjohn to provide adequate warnings regarding Depo-Medrol. The court declined, however, to instruct on strict liability, reasoning that in cases where a failure to provide sufficient warnings relative to prescription drugs has been alleged, negligence is the only recognized basis for recovery. In reaching this conclusion, reliance was placed on our decisions in other prescription drug liability cases, particularly those applying comments j and k of the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 402A. We find no error and thus affirm.
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543 Pa. 558 *; 673 A.2d 888 **; 1996 Pa. LEXIS 540 ***; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P14,566
CHARLES D. HAHN, Appellant v. HOWARD D. RICHTER, M.D., and THE UPJOHN COMPANY, Appellees
Subsequent History: [***1] Application for Reargument Denied May 24, 1996, Reported at: 1996 Pa. LEXIS 1099. Application for Reargument Denied May 29, 1996.
Prior History: Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court Entered on July 16, 1993, at No. 19 Philadelphia 1991, Affirming the Judgment Entered on December 12, 1990, in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Civil Division, at No. 82-20895 427 Pa. Super. 130, 628 A.2d 860 (1993). JUDGE(S) BELOW: Hon. Anita Brody (C.C.P.); Rowley, P.J., Cavanaugh, McEwen, Del Sole, Beck, Tamilia, Kelly, Popovich & Ford Elliott, JJ. (Super.).
Disposition: Order affirmed.
warnings, strict liability, prescription drug, manufacturer, cases, failure to warn, products
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