DALTON v. TEVA NORTH AMERICA et al
ORDER granting Defendants' 58 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Richard L. Young on 4/11/2017. (TMD)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TEVA NORTH AMERICA, TEVA
WOMEN’S HEALTH, INC., TEVA
CLINICAL RESEARCH INC., TEVA
NEUROSCIENCE INC., TEVA SALES
AND MARKETING, TEVA WOMEN’S
HEALTH SALES CORPORATION,
BIOCRAFT LABORATORIES INC.,
TEVA PHARMACEUTICALS USA,
INC., and JOHN DOES (1 THROUGH 5),
ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Plaintiff, Cheryl Dalton, alleges that she suffered personal injuries as a result of
her use of a ParaGard® T 380A Intrauterine Copper Contraceptive (“IUD”).
Specifically, she maintains that she experienced pain, discomfort, and excessive bleeding
a few years after the IUD was inserted. A physician attempted to remove it, but the entire
product could not be successfully removed. According to Plaintiff, a small piece of the
IUD remains embedded in her uterus, and it continues to cause her pain. The fragment
can only be removed via a hysterectomy.
Her Amended Complaint sets forth three counts: (1) “Strict Liability,” (2) “Strict
Products Liability Failure to Warn,” and (3) “Manufacturer’s Defect.” Each count falls
under Indiana’s Product Liability Act (“IPLA”), as the Act “governs all actions that are:
(1) brought by a user or consumer; (2) against a manufacturer or seller; and (3) for
physical harm caused by a product; regardless of the substantive legal theory or theories
upon which the action is brought.” Ind. Code § 34-20-1-1. See Ford Motor Co. v.
Rushford, 868 N.E.2d 806, 809 (Ind. 2007) (“[The IPLA] imposes liability upon sellers of
a product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to any user or consumer.”).
To succeed on her claims, Plaintiff must prove proximate causation–i.e., that the
IUD’s alleged defect proximately caused her injury. Kovach v. Midwest, 913 N.E.2d
193, 197 (Ind. 2009). Expert testimony is required in product liability cases to prove
causation unless the case contains uncomplicated facts that lead to only one logical
conclusion. See Hartman v. EBSCO Indus., 758 F.3d 810, 818 (7th Cir. 2014) (“Under
Indiana law, expert testimony is required in order to show a design defect where the
defect’s existence depends on matters beyond the common understanding of lay jurors.”);
Cansler v. Mills, 765 N.E.2d 698, 706 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002) (“Expert testimony is not
always required to establish an element of a products liability action if there is sufficient
circumstantial evidence within a lay person’s understanding that would constitute a basis
for a legal inference and not mere speculation.”). But see Tucker v. SmithKline Beecham
Corp., 701 F. Supp. 2d 1040, 1047 (S.D. Ind. 2010) (“[I]n pharmaceutical cases, expert
testimony is required to prove a causal connection between the drug and its alleged
effects.”); Hannan v. Pest Control Servs., 734 N.E.2d 674, 679 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000)
(“[Q]uestions of medical causation of a particular injury are questions of science
necessarily dependent on the testimony of physicians and surgeons learned in such
Defendants move for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff has failed to
designate any experts on the issue of causation. Plaintiff responds that this is a case that
does not require expert testimony. She essentially claims that after the jury hears her
treating physicians describe the attempted removal of the IUD, sees the x-rays of the
portion of the IUD that remains embedded in her uterus, and reviews her medical records,
they will be able to impose liability without any speculation. The court disagrees. None
of this evidence addresses the key question–whether an alleged defect in the IUD caused
Plaintiff’s injuries. The jury would be required to speculate as to whether her preremoval symptoms of bleeding and discomfort were caused by a defect in the IUD,
improper use of it, a mistake in the placement procedure, or something else.
Additionally, a juror would have no evidence to help him decide whether the break in the
IUD was caused by a mistake in the placement procedure, a mistake in the removal
procedure, a defect in the product, or perhaps none of those. There are similar concerns
with the cause of her post-removal symptoms. As the Seventh Circuit noted in the
context of a Social Security disability appeal, “Common sense can mislead; lay intuitions
about medical phenomena are often wrong.” Schmidt v. Sullivan, 914 F.2d 117, 118 (7th
Cir. 1990). The question of causation in this case is not within the common
understanding and experience of a lay jury; expert testimony is required.
Plaintiff also offers what the court construes as an argument in the alternative.
She seems to suggest that if experts are required, she has them. In support, she highlights
that she disclosed two experts and that “Defendants did not object” to them. There is
more to the story though. Pursuant to the Case Management Plan, Plaintiff was required
to disclose expert witnesses and serve expert reports on or before November 18, 2016.
She did not disclose any experts or serve any reports by that deadline. Rather, on
November 28 (after Defendants moved for leave to file a summary judgment motion as to
this one issue), Plaintiff filed an expert witness list, disclosing the names and contact
information of two individuals–Dr. Veeren B. Chithriki and Dr. Kayur V. Patel. She did
not serve any expert reports though. In her brief, Plaintiff fails to offer any substantive
information about the opinions Drs. Chithriki and Patel will provide. It is therefore
unclear how these experts are relevant to the Defendants’ motion.
Plaintiff had the burden to retain an expert under Indiana law, but she failed to do
that. That failure dooms her claim. See Goodman v. NSA, Inc., 621 F.3d 651, 654 (7th
Cir. 2010) (“We often call summary judgment, the ‘put up or shut up’ moment in
litigation, by which we mean that the non-moving party is required to marshal and
present the court with the evidence she contends will prove her case.”) (citations
omitted). See also Myers v. Briggs & Stratton Corp., No. 1:09-cv-0020-SEB-TAB, 2010
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38099, at *19 (S.D. Ind. Apr. 16, 2010) (granting summary judgment
on the plaintiff’s IPLA claims because he did “not have required expert testimony on the
essential element of proximate causation”).
Therefore, Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Filing No. 58) is
SO ORDERED this 11th day of April 2017.
Distributed Electronically to Registered Counsel of Record.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?