Bausch & Lomb suit claims ReNu caused eye infection

Ann Knef Feb. 7, 2007, 6:25am

Attorney John Driscoll

A Chicago plaintiff claiming she suffered an eye infection from using a recalled Bausch & Lomb contact solution has filed a product liability suit in St. Clair County.

Represented by prolific St. Louis attorney John Driscoll, Sarah Barnes is seeking in excess of $300,000 in damages from Bausch & Lomb and Walgreen Co. over the product ReNu with MoistureLoc.

Last year Bausch & Lomb recalled the product after it became associated with a severe infection -- fungal keratitis.

In May 2006, the company decided to permanently discontinue selling the solution after hundreds of cases of the eye fungus were reported.

Barnes claims injuries to her cornea, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, hospital expenses, medical and nursing care, loss of earnings and/or loss of the ability to earn money in the future. She claims that without effective treatment, she is at risk for further injury, including corneal surgery and even vision loss.

According to the suit filed Feb. 6, St. Clair County is an appropriate venue for the Chicago-based plaintiff and defendant Walgreen because business was transacted in the state of Illinois. Bausch & Lomb is registered in New York.

"Upon information and belief, at all relevant times, Defendants were present and transacted, solicited and conducted business in the State of Illinois, including particularly Collier County, Illinois and derived substantial revenue from such business," the complaint states.

There is no Collier County in Illinois, however such a county exists in Florida.

Product liability specialist Driscoll, who has filed scores of personal injury and mass tort cases in Madison and St. Clair counties in recent years, is on the verge of bringing one of his many Vioxx campaigns against Merck to trial in Madison County. He litigates for Brown & Crouppen, a law firm that frequently advertises for clients on television and billboards.

Barnes' suit claims ReNu with MoistureLoc was unreasonably dangerous, defectively designed, insufficiently tested and not safe for its intended use.

She claims the defendants actively sought to "bury" information that they did not provide to consumers, and knowingly and intentionally failed to display warnings prominently in order to hide from the consuming public the true risks of severe complications that had been reported in association with the product.

The suit alleges that ReNu with MoistureLoc did not satisfy the Food and Drug Administration's pre-market approval and standards. It also claims the failure to satisfy the FDA's standards resulted in unreasonably dangerous manufacturing and/or design defects.

As of May 18, 2006, the Centers for Disease Control had received reports of 130 confirmed cases of fungal keratitis reported from 26 states and in Asia, the complaint states. Among the 130 patients with confirmed cases, 75 reported using ReNu with MoistureLoc alone and 14 reported using it in combination with other products, the complaint further states.

According to the Associated Press, Bausch & Lomb lowered its 2006 revenue forecast last week, citing a slower-than-expected recovery from the ReNu with MoistureLoc recall and sluggish contact lens sales.

The AP also reported that the company expects to book about $2.3 billion in revenue for 2006, below its previous guidance of $2.33 billion to $2.4 billion.

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