Hagens Berman Adds Five Cases to Thalidomide Litigation
Firm now represents 49 alleged victims in case against drug manufacturer,
others, citing new evidence
SEATTLE -- August 12, 2013
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP (HBSS) has filed a new case on behalf of five
alleged victims of multiple German and North American companies, charging that
they or their predecessors concealed the distribution of the drug thalidomide
to pregnant women in the 1960s, allegedly causing birth defects across the
The suit, filed on Aug. 7, 2013, brings the number of clients Hagens Berman
represents to 49. The firm first brought attention to this matter when it
filed its first lawsuit in 2011.
The most recent filing in state court in Pennsylvania names Avantor
Performance Materials, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:
SNY), and Grünenthal GmbH as defendants, as well as some of their
According to court documents, recent research suggests that thalidomide—a drug
that caused thousands of horrific cases of deformities in children—caused far
more deformities in the U.S. than originally thought.
Invented by German drug company Grunenthal, thalidomide was widely used
throughout Europe during the late 1950s and early 1960s, resulting in
thousands of deaths and extreme, disfiguring birth defects when used by women
The drug was never approved for commercial distribution in the United States,
but the new lawsuit filed today by HBSS on behalf of five individuals—all born
with severe birth defects—alleges that as many as 2.5 million doses of
thalidomide were distributed by more than 1,200 doctors to more than 20,000
people on U.S. soil, including pregnant women. The lawsuit is the latest in a
series of suits filed by individuals who claim that their mothers were given
thalidomide while they were in the womb, and who suffered serious injuries or
birth defects as a result.
The lawsuit claims that Richardson-Merrell, a pharmaceutical company now owned
by Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY) conducted large-scale “clinical trials” with
thalidomide that involved more than 20,000 people, including pregnant women,
in the early 1960s.
“We believe that there are potentially hundreds of victims still alive whose
mothers were given thalidomide while pregnant,” said Steve Berman, managing
partner of Hagens Berman and one of the attorneys for the alleged victims.
According to Berman, researchers initially concluded that thalidomide causes
bilateral birth defects, such as two missing or shortened arms or hearing loss
in both ears. As a result, babies born with unilateral defects, such as one
deformed limb or hearing loss in only one ear, were not deemed thalidomide
victims, even when their mothers were given the drug while pregnant.
The lawsuit claims new research involving thalidomide as part of a treatment
regimen in cancer patients casts doubt on the theory that the drug can only
cause bilateral defects.
“These thalidomiders had every reason to believe that they were simply born
with severe birth defects, but new medical evidence and uncovered documents
shed light on thalidomide’s role in their injuries,” said Berman.
The complaint claims that the defendants are either guilty of or liable for a
civil conspiracy, failing to report and covering up evidence that thalidomide
was harmful, especially when taken during the early stages of pregnancy. The
lawsuit also says that the defendants were negligent in continuing to
manufacture, test and distribute the drug.
Hagens Berman is seeking punitive damages against the defendants on behalf of
the plaintiffs, as well as compensation due to economic losses and emotional
distress from physical defects.
The firm is also continuing to research the case. Those with additional
information or who believe they might have suffered as a result of in utero
thalidomide exposure are encouraged to call Hagens Berman at (206) 623-7292 or
email the firm at Thalidomide@hbsslaw.com.
More information about the case can be found at www.hbsslaw.com/thalidomide.
About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP (HBSS) represents consumers, whistleblowers,
investors, workers and others in complex and class-action litigation. The firm
has offices in ten cities and has been named to the National Law Journal’s
Plaintiffs’ Hot List six times. Founded in 1993, HBSS continues to
successfully fight for consumer rights in large, complex litigation against
large corporations recovering numerous multimillion-dollar damages awards.
More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com.
Visit the firm’s class-action law blog at www.classactionlawtoday.com.
Firmani + Associates Inc.
Mark Firmani, 206-443-9357
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