Families of Tennesseans who lose their life because of GranuFlo or NaturaLyte (both drugs have been recalled by the FDA) will face limits on the amount of damages that can be recovered because of a new law that went into effect October 1, 2011.
Under Tennessee’s new tort reform legislation, non-economic damages are subject to an artificial limit. For most cases, the cap is $750,000.00 but, in a few exceptional types of cases, the cap is $1,000,000. Non-economic damages are intended to compensate for pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life and other intangible consequences of an injury. Economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages are not subject to an arbitrary cap but still must be proven by the evidence.
Why is the distinction between economic damages and non-economic damages important? The GranuFlo and NaturaLyte cases involve dialysis patients. The drugs are only used for that purpose, and dialysis patients typically have a variety of serious health issues. These health issues usually mean: (1) the dialysis patient is unable to maintain full-time employment; and (2) the life expectancy of a dialysis patient is usually less than the general population. So, both of these facts play a huge role in the amount of economic damages or uncapped damages in a GranuFlo or NaturaLyte case. If the patient was working only part-time and had a shortened life expectancy, the amount of uncapped economic damages are going to be significantly less than a person who is employed full-time with a normal life expectancy. So, the patient’s recovery from a lawsuit will be much less under tort reform.
Let’s look at a hypothetical situation: A mother, 45 years of age, suffers cardiac arrest and dies while undergoing dialysis using GranuFlo. Because of her kidney disease, she had been unable to work full-time but she was still an involved homemaker and caregiver for her husband and three young children. Because she was not employed at the time of her death, her economic damages are essentially limited to her medical bills. Of course, the medical bills are relatively small because the cardiac death was a sudden death (rather than a prolonged hospitalization). And more importantly, those bills have to be paid out of any recovery.
So, the husband and three small children lose a loving wife and mother because a manufacturer knew of, yet ignored, a dangerous link between its recalled drug and cardiac arrest. What type of compensation can the family of this hypothetical mother expect? This tragic loss and the life-long heartache of not having a mother to attend ballgames and dance recitals, help with school projects, provide boyfriend and girlfriend advice, bake brownies with, witness the birth of grand babies and all of the other precious life moments will be capped at $750,000, an arbitrary number selected by legislators who have zero knowledge of the facts, the woman or her family.
If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, cardiac arrest or death after undergoing dialysis using GranuFlo or NaturaLyte, it is important to hire an experienced lawyer who can investigate all possible elements of damages and sources of recovery in order to maximize your compensation. At the Law Offices of John Day, we recently settled a client’s case for $1,000,000. Before the client came to us, she had been told by a number of other personal injury lawyers that the maximum recovery she could obtain was $100,000 so the other lawyers would not even take her case. Believe us when we say: the right lawyer can make a difference even in tough cases impacted by tort reform. For more information on GranuFlo and NaturaLyte cases, click here and then call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or complete ouron-line form.