A University of Iowa pharmaceutical lab is facing an unusual personal injury lawsuit in California that has already cost the school thousands in legal fees and will likely cost it many thousands more. The state of Iowa is paying a Los Angeles law firm around $500 per hour to fight the lawsuit that was filed in February by a pharmacist who alleges she sustained painful eye injuries after exposure to a trial drug manufactured at UI Pharmaceuticals. A state panel approved using $27,000 of the university’s money to pay the legal fees, but those fees will continue to grow, as Iowa’s motion to dismiss the claim was rejected by a California judge last week.
Cynthia Wong, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, is a clinical pharmacist who works at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, which is a clinical trial site for pharmaceutical products. Her job requires her to regularly unpack boxes of drugs. She alleges that on March 3, 2011, a vapor was released from one of these boxes that caused injuries to her face and eyes. UI Pharmaceuticals made the sodium chlorite that was inside the vials located in the box for Neuraltus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Sharp Corp. processed and sent the package that allegedly caused Wong’s injuries. Wong describes her injuries as corneal abrasions, which involve scratches to the cornea that can cause blurred vision, redness, tears, and inflammation. According to Wong’s attorney, Alan Zacharin, Wong still suffers eye problems nearly three years after the exposure.
Wong’s lawsuit states that she sustained injuries because of safety defects in the design, manufacture, packing, and shipment of the product. The lawsuit goes on to say that the package should have come with instructions and warnings about the possibility for injuries so that Wong could have made “an intelligent decision regarding whether to unpack” the box. Wong’s injuries have allegedly caused her to incur medical expenses, miss work, and suffer a diminished earning capacity. She named UI Pharmaceuticals, Neuraltus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Sharp Corp. as defendants. The state of Iowa is incurring costs for UI Pharmaceuticals’ defense because UI Pharmaceuticals is a state entity.
U Iowa drug lab faces injury lawsuit in California, www.palmbeachpost.com December 31, 2013
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