N.Y. court allows Omniscan suit to proceed against GE

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A judge in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York has refused to throw out a lawsuit filed by a kidney patient against General Electric and affiliates concerning the patient’s exposure to Omniscan, a gadolinium-based contrast agent.

The judge declined to dismiss claims involving strict product liability, negligence, fraud and misrepresentation and a derivative claim for medical expenses, although she did dismiss a claim for breach of warranty because the “complaint fails to allege that defendants gave express warranties to anyone, including plaintiff and her doctors, concerning Omniscan.”

Lauren E. Swart, 19, is seeking damages based on allegations that she developed nephrogenic system fibrosis as a result of exposure to Omniscan five times between June 2003 and February 2006 while she was undergoing imaging procedures at University of North Carolina healthcare facilities in Durham, N.C.

Swart is arguing that GE and its affiliates were engaged in the design, manufacture and distribution of Omniscan and “knew or should have known that Omniscan posed a significant health risk to patients with renal insufficiency and failed to advise consumers and their healthcare providers of that risk.”

GE argued that there were a number of reasons Swart’s claims should have been dismissed, including their contention that GE was improperly named as a defendant for these reasons: “the complaint fails to allege that GE manufactures, sells or distributes Omniscan; plaintiff’s allegations that defendants share revenue, the GE logo and the GE website are insufficient to pierce the corporate veil; plaintiff’s allegation that GE has acknowledged that GE Healthcare is a unit of GE which is responsible for Omniscan is insufficient to establish alter ego liability absent an allegation of improper dominion by GE; and plaintiff’s conclusory allegation that defendants are corporate successors to Amersham, which held the rights to Omniscan, does not impute liability to GE.”

The court held that GE Healthcare relationship to GE is close enough to allow the suit to go forward.

According to GE Healthcare’s website, Omniscan was launched in the U.S. in 1993 to provide contrast enhancement of the central nervous system to detect lesions of the brain, spinal cord, and associated tissues.