A South Carolina man has filed a lawsuit in federal court in East St. Louis against Abbott Laboratories over a drug his mother took while pregnant.
Jasper James, 21, asserts he suffered injuries as the result of his mother’s ingestion of Depakote -- an anti-epileptic drug made, sold and distributed by Abbott, -- during her pregnancy with him.
Seeking at least $75,000, James’ suit claims that Depakote was “defectively designed, inadequately tested, dangerous to human health and unborn, and lacked proper warnings as to the true danger associated with its use.”
According to the suit, the primary compound in the drug – valproic acid—has been found to cause severe birth defects if ingested during the first trimester of pregnancy, as James alleges his mother did while pregnant with him.
Some of these birth defects, the suit states, include spina bifida, clef palate, cleft lip, limb deformities, facial dysmorphism, mental developmental delays and heart defects.
James alleges that as a “direct and proximate result of the acts and omissions of Defendant,” he was born with spina bifida, a type of nueral tube defect that affects the spinal cord and its coverings.
The birth defect, the suit states, has forced James to suffer pain, loss of normal life and earnings, as well as incur substantial medical costs in the past and likely in the future.
James also claims that Abbott has been aware of the birth defects associated with its drug since about 1978, when it received approval to market Depakote, but has downplayed the dangers in its product labeling while seeking expanded use for the drug.
“Abbott knew or should have known it had a duty to warn doctors and patients that women who were taking Depakote should not get pregnant, and that women who might become pregnant should not take Depakote,” the suit contends.
It adds, “This simple warning, commonplace with countless pharmaceuticals, would have spared Plaintiff a lifetime of pain and suffering, inordinate healthcare costs, severe emotional and physical distress, and loss of earning potential.”
The suit includes counts alleging strict products liability, negligence, gross negligence, breach of implied and express warranty, misrepresentation by omission, fraud and misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
It also asserts that the running of any statute of limitations should be tolled because Abbott fraudulently concealed the defects and risks associated with the drug’s use.
On behalf of James, Belleville attorney Christopher Cueto submitted the complaint. Texas attorneys John Boundas, Steven Kherkher and Sejal Brahmbhatt are also listed as James’ attorneys.