Federal jury turns down plaintiff's $5 million suit against Pharmacia

Ann Knef Jul. 20, 2005, 11:20am

An Illinois Power electrician who claims she contracted skin diseases and feared cancer from exposure to PCB, lost a $5 million case against Pharmacia Corp. Tuesday in federal court.

A jury in the Southern District of Illinois ruled that the manufacturer was not liable for Cheryl Knutsinger's alleged injuries.

Knutsinger, who was represented by Aaron Dickey, Mark Goldenberg and Randy Gori of Goldenberg, Miller, Heller & Antognoli in Edwardsville, first filed the complaint in St. Clair County Circuit Court in February 2003, but the case was removed to federal court.

The original suit also included Monsanto and Solutia, but they were dismissed in June 2003.

Pharmacia attorney Kenneth Heineman of Husch & Eppenberger in St. Louis said he was obviously pleased with the jury's decision.

"I felt that our position was absolutely clear and correct," he said.

"Our position was that she was not exposed and there was no dose in her body," Heineman said. "Her fear of cancer was not justified."

The three-count suit claimed that on March 19, 2001, Knutsinger was dispatched to an Illinois Power facility where she was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), within transformer oil and through other components of a transformer.

Knutsinger claimed the exposure put her at an increased risk for further illness, "including such serious illness as cancer, and caused mental fear and anguish, including the fear of future development of serious illnesses such as cancer," the complaint stated.

Heineman said defense introduced testimony of seven expert witnesses in the fields of medicine, analytical chemistry and toxicology.

Plaintiffs introduced one out-of-state medical expert, Heineman said.

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