OptiMark MRI Contrast Dye Lawsuit Transferred to New Jersey Federal Court

Published on January 8, 2019 by Laurie Villanueva

An MRI contrast dye lawsuit involving OptiMark will be litigated in New Jersey, after a federal judge determined that the jurisdiction has the most significant relationship to the case.

According to a complaint originally filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, John Carney was injected with OptiMark, a linear gadolinium-based agent, before undergoing an MRI. As a result of gadolinium allegedly retained in his body and brain, Carney claims to have suffered physical injuries, including fibrosis in his organs, skin, and bones.

His lawsuit further alleges that the drug’s manufacturers “knew or should have known” about the potential for gadolinium retention in patients with normal kidney function, as well as related adverse health consequences. However, they failed to warn Carney or his healthcare providers about these risks.

MRI Contrast Dye Lawsuit Plaintiff Resident of New Jersey

Carney is a resident of New Jersey and underwent the OptiMark MRI in that state. In filing his lawsuit in Missouri, however, he alleged that defendant Guerbet LLC was a Delaware limited liability corporation with its principal place of business in Indiana. He further claimed that Defendant Liebel-Flarsheim Company LLC was a Delaware limited liability corporation with its principal place of business in Missouri.

Finally, Carney alleged that defendant Mallinckrodt, Inc. was a Delaware corporation with a principle place of business in Missouri. Mallinckrodt admitted in its answer that this was the case.

According to HarrisMartin.com, Guerbet moved to dismiss the MRI contrast dye lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction, asserting that its principal place of business is actually in New Jersey. Liebel-Flarsheim sought dismissal for improper venue. In lieu of dismissal, both defendants proposed that the case be transferred to the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.

In an Order dated December 12th, Judge Charles Shaw denied both motions for dismissal, but agreed that Carney’s OptiMark lawsuit should be transferred to New Jersey.

“With respect to the threshold inquiry on a motion to transfer venue, the Court finds that this case could have been brought in the District of New Jersey,” Judge Shaw wrote. “That district is the forum where plaintiff’s injury occurred, and therefore a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred there.”

FDA Gadolinium Retention Warning

OptiMark and other gadolinium-based contrast dyes are administered prior to an MRI to improve the appearance of images on a scan.

Until recently, it was believed that gadolinium was quickly eliminated from the bodies of patients with normal kidney function. However, mounting scientific evidence now suggests this is not the case.

In December 2017, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ordered MRI contrast dye manufacturers to add information about gadolinium retention to their product labels. Among other things, the agency noted that the risk of retention appeared highest with linear gadolinium agents.

So far, the FDA hasn’t concluded that gadolinium retention in patients with healthy kidneys causes any serious health problems. However, the agency did order the manufacturers of OptiMark and other gadolinium agents to conduct animal and human studies to better assess their safety and effectiveness.

MRI Contrast Dye Lawsuits Mounting in U.S. Courts

Since then, numerous plaintiffs have filed MRI contrast agent lawsuits for injuries and complications allegedly caused by gadolinium retention. Among other things, plaintiffs assert that gadolinium retention occurred even though they had healthy kidneys and caused a range of symptoms characterized as “Gadolinium Deposition Disease,” including:

  • Intense burning of the skin and skin substrate
  • Intense boring pain in bones or joints
  • Brain fog or mental confusion
  • Muscle vibrations, pins and needles sensation
  • Headache
  • Thickening, discoloration, pain in the skin or skin substrate of the distal arms and legs.

Last year, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) rejected a plaintiffs’ petition to centralize all federally-filed gadolinium retention lawsuits in a single federal court for the purpose of coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings.

For now, MRI contrast dye lawsuits will continue to move forward in federal courts on an individual basis. Plaintiffs, however, may request centralization again if they are able to overcome the JPML’s objections.

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