A Massachusetts federal jury cleared dialysis provider Fresenius Medical Care of liability in a suit alleging one of its clinics caused a patient's death.
The verdict marks a big win for Fresenius, as it was the first case to go to trial after the company agreed to pay $250 million to settle thousands of lawsuits from dialysis patients and their families over their care.
The suit was filed by the family of Carley Dial, a North Carolina man who died at a Fresenius clinic in 2012. Dial's family claims he died of cardiac arrest shortly after he received GranuFlo, a treatment used in dialysis machines to cleanse patients' blood. The Dial family is barred from participating in the settlement because it opted not to join and file a suit.
The verdict may be used by the company and other plaintiffs who opted out of the settlement to gauge the value of their claims. Fresenius still faces more than 4,000 lawsuits in federal court over dialysis treatments that use Naturalyte and Granuflo. Plaintiffs claimed the treatments caused patients to suffer heart attacks and deaths because Fresenius doctors didn't know how to use the treatment ingredients.
Kent Jarrell, a spokesman for Fresenius, said the company was “gratified" by the verdict. He added that the verdict doesn't impact the $250 million settlement agreement, which is still pending. No decision has been made by Fresenius to confirm or void the settlement. The $250 million settlement must include at least 97% of all suits filed.
Fresenius initially came under fire in 2012 for its GranuFlo product when it sent a memo to its doctors warning the treatment was contributing to an increase of patients dying from cardiac arrest. The Germany-based provider failed to warn physicians not part of Fresenius of the concern. The Food and Drug Administration launched an investigation shortly afterward.
More than 10,000 lawsuits were filed as a result of the adverse treatment effects, but more than half were settled.