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Widow Alleges Fresenius Responsible for Husband’s Death

CourthouseThe surviving spouse of a Mississippi man, Marshall Russell Phillips, has filed a lawsuit against Fresenius Medical Care, alleging that Naturalyte caused a fatal heart injury. Nellie Phillips, the widow, and Nelda Neal, the anticipated personal representation of the decedent’s estate, filed the lawsuit on July 1, 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

The complaint joins similar cases pending in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) No. 2428. Judge Douglas P. Woodlock is presiding over these cases.

Fresenius MDL

The MDL was established by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) in 2013 for the purpose of centralizing complaints filed against Fresenius Medical Care. These lawsuits allege the defendants’ products, Naturalyte and Granuflo, caused life-threatening complications, such as heart injury, stroke and death. Since its creation, over 2,200 complaints have been added to the MDL.

The establishment of an MDL is intended to serve the interests of all involved parties. Evidence uncovered during discovery may be used for all plaintiffs, which can streamline the litigation process. Centralization of similar lawsuits also reduces the possibility of contradictory pre-trial rulings. Following discovery, the parties select a few bellwether cases for early trial dates. The outcomes of these trials are not binding upon the other cases. However, they can inform the other parties of jurors’ possible reactions to evidence. Plaintiffs in the MDL may have the option to accept a settlement deal or they may choose to take their individual cases to trial.

The Naturalyte lawsuit filed by the widow of the heart injury patient is similar to the other complaints in its allegations. The lawsuits typically claim that the defendants should be held liable for producing an unreasonably dangerous product, and for failing to provide adequate warning to consumers and the healthcare community regarding the possible life-threatening risks of Naturalyte and Granuflo.

Naturalyte heart injury lawsuit

The lawsuit filed against Fresenius Medical Care alleges that the decedent passed on July 7, 2012 as a result of the use of the defendants’ products during his hemodialysis treatment. The complaint does not provide details, since it is a short form complaint; however, it does note that the decedent suffered a “severe adverse cardiovascular event.”

Hemodialysis is a treatment option for patients suffering from acute or chronic kidney disease. Patients receiving hemodialysis typically go to a dialysis clinic or hospital to undergo treatment. Typically, the treatment must be repeated three times per week for three to five hours per session. During hemodialysis, a special machine filters the blood to remove waste products. Dialysis also involves the use of products, such as Naturalyte and Granuflo, to correct acidosis.

Naturalyte and Granuflo are acid concentrates that are used to make dialysate solutions to be administered during dialysis. Dialysate solutions contain bicarbonate to counteract acidosis. However, it has been alleged that the nature of these products can cause some patients to develop excessively high levels of bicarbonate, which leads to metabolic alkalosis. Metabolic alkalosis is the polar opposite of acidosis. This Naturalyte and Granuflo side effect can increase the risk of cardiopulmonary arrest or sudden cardiac arrest.

The lawsuits pending in the MDL claim that the defendants knew or should have known of the risks, yet failed to issue adequate warnings or provide proper training and instruction to reduce the risk of complications.

U.S. District Court, MDL 2428, National Kidney Foundation, Dialysis,