BENTON – The mother of a disabled child is suing over allegations that a prescription drug she took while pregnant caused her child's disabilities.
Tammy Sapio, individually and as parent and guardian of J.S., a minor, filed the suit March 18 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against Abbott Laboratories and Abbvie Inc.
According to the complaint, the defendants manufacture, market and distribute medications containing valproate, valproic acid and valproate sodium, one of which is Depakene. This drug is prescribed for the treatment of seizures.
The plaintiff claims she ingested the drug to control her seizure disorder and continued taking it while she was pregnant, according to the complaint.
J.S. was born in March 1998 and suffers several significant congenital anomalies, cognitive/behavioral impairments and neurological disorders, the suit says.
According to the complaint, the defendants should have known of the effects of taking the drug since the first report that was published in 1980. Yet, the defendants claimed in product labeling that any potential increase in birth defects was only a possibility, the suit alleges.
On July 15, 2015, 13 years after the minor plaintiff's birth, the manufacturer issued a drug warning letter which announced major safety labeling changes, and some of those were specific to pregnant women, the suit says.
Because of the minor plaintiff's birth defects, he will likely be dependent on his mother for the rest of his life, according to the suit
In addition to strict product liability, the counts against the defendants are negligence, negligent misrepresentation and fraud, and breach of warranty.
The plaintiff seeks punitive damages for all counts, arguing that the defendants' acts were motivated by financial gain. She also seeks compensatory damages in excess of the minimum jurisdictional amount; economic damages in the form of medical, out-of-pocket, child care and life care expenses, lost earnings and other economic damages to be determined by the jury; attorney fees and court costs; and other relief the court deems appropriate. A trial by jury is also requested.
The plaintiff is represented by Janet G. Abaray of Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine PC in Cincinnati.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois case number 16-cv-289