Product liability suit over Duragesic pain patch death settles

Amelia Flood Apr. 12, 2010, 9:30am


A woman's product liability suit against the maker of a fentanyl pain patch has settled.

Details of the settlement among plaintiff Leigh Ann Cruse and the remaining defendants, Johnson & Johnson Corp., Janssen Pharmaceutical Products, and Alza Corporation, are not yet available.

Two other defendants, Tri-City Neurology Associates Ltd. and Dr. Syed Ali of Granite City, were dismissed without prejudice from the case on March 25.

The case had been set for trial April 19. The case settled April 9.

Cruse sued the companies, who make and distribute the pain patch Duragesic on her own behalf and as administrator of her husband, Cliff Cruse's estate.

Cliff Cruse died in April 2006.

Duragesic is a pain medication patch containing fentanyl. According to the 2007 complaint, Cliff Cruse was prescribed a Duragesic pain patch first in 2004 by Ali. That prescription continued until about a month before Cliff Cruse's death.

The complaint alleges that while wearing the patch April 12, 2006, Cliff Cruse took a nap. Around midnight April 13, family members were unable to wake Cliff Cruse. He was pronounced dead about an hour later.

His cause of death was determined to be from a fentanyl overdose.

The complaint alleges that Cliff Cruse did not know that the patch was allegedly defective.

His wife is suing on counts of strict product liability, negligence, breach of warranty, and other counts. She alleges Ali failed to properly monitor her husband's use of the patch.

Leigh Ann Cruse's suit seeks damages of at least $50,000 per count and costs.

The case had been assigned to then-Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

The case is now assigned to Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla.

Cruse is represented by Amy Collignon Gunn of St. Louis.

The defendants who settled April 9 are represented by Robert Shultz and others.

The case is Madison case number 07-L-900.

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