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Kelly & West News

NC Halts Product Liability Legislation Limiting Wrongful Death Suits Against Drug Companies

North Carolina legislature voted to halt the product-liability bill after attempting for three years to pass it in its current form.

The legislation would have drastically restricted a consumer’s ability to file personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against pharmaceutical drug manufacturing companies.

In the hopes of protecting local manufactures from crippling financial damages that out of control lawsuits can cause, the product-liability bill was created. While not meant to shelter the pharmaceutical industry, it was intended to limit just how much a person could file lawsuit for so that local pharmaceutical jobs could still survive paying damage amounts.

NC is home to many drug making companies, such as the large GlaxoSmithKline complex in Raleigh, NC that employs hundreds of people.

Opponents of the bill have maintained  that the product-liability bill, if passed, would have made North Carolina have the most restrictive provisions in the nation, thus preventing North Carolina citizens from receiving compensation for damages or harm caused by medications they took.

Supporters of the bill have maintained that some kind of protection for the companies is needed after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an FDA approval of a medicine does not protect a drug maker from liability for harm done by that company’s particular drug under state law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirmed consumer rights to hold companies liable for harm from their products and upheld consumer rights to file suit in state courts.

As of now, only Michigan has passed a law that gives immunity from lawsuits to drug companies so long as the drug in question has been approved by the FDA.

Even though the product-liability bill has floundered, there is hope that the bill could be revised to a standard that is more appealing to all committee members.

Republican committee member, Tamara Barringer, stated that “I’m concerned about anything that will limit rights of consumers or anybody to recover for homer done to them. The original bill would have severely limited the ability to recover if someone were injured by a manufacturer defect, a design defect, or a failure to warn-any product liability suit. The language was too broad.”

Concern for unintended consequences of the bill’s language was front and center for many of the committee members on both sides. The committee did pass language to provide some protection to drug makers, given that consumers were properly notified or warned of risk and danger and the pharmaceutical company complied with all FDA requirements and standards. Consumers would have to prove the drug maker did not act accordingly before filing suit.

If you or a loved one have been affected by personal injury or wrongful death due to the negligence of a large pharmaceutical company, you can trust in the assistance of Kelly & West professional personal injury and wrongful death lawyers serving the North Carolina region.


Please NOTE: Kelly & West Attorneys, P.A. is not representing any parties involved in this case.




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