Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hymowitz v. Eli Lilly and Company case brief

Hymowitz v. Eli Lilly and Company case summary
541 N.Y.S.2d 941 (1989)
Tort Law

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Appeals from decisions of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department (New York) denying summary judgment to defendant drug manufacturers in products liability action arising from injuries plaintiffs suffered as result of plaintiffs' mothers' use of diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy.


-Plaintiffs sued defendant drug manufacturers in three product liability actions, alleging injuries from use of diethylstilbestrol (DES) by plaintiffs' mothers during pregnancy.
-In all three cases, the trial court denied defendants summary judgment, and the appeals court affirmed.
-On appeal, defendant drug manufacturers argued that summary judgment was proper because plaintiffs could not identify the manufacturer of the drug that allegedly injured them and that state law, which revived time-barred DES claims, violated constitutional due process and equal protection principles.

The court affirmed, adopting a national market-share theory for apportioning liability, and holding the statute was rationally based and constitutional.

The court now adopts a market share theory, using a national market, for determining liability and apportioning damages in diethylstilbestrol (DES) cases in which identification of the manufacturer of the drug that injured a plaintiff is impossible. The court also holds that the New York Legislature's revival for one year of actions for injuries caused by DES that were previously barred by the Statute of Limitations is constitutional under the New York and federal constitutions.

OUTCOME: The court affirmed the denial of summary judgment to defendant drug manufacturers, adopting a national market-share theory for apportioning liability and holding state statute reviving time-barred claims constitutional.

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