Illinois Jury Verdict for 2.2 Million in First Humira Infection Case

An Illinois jury found that Abbott Laboratories was negligent and ordered it to pay $2,244,063 for an infection suffered by Delores Tietz after she took the rheumatoid arthritis drug, Humira.

The Cook County Illinois jury entered its verdict for the plaintiff,  Milton Tietz, who was the personal representative of the Delores Tietz estate. She  died in March 2013.

The jury found that Abbott was negligent for not taking reasonable measures to make sure that Delores Tietz’s doctors had a “high index of suspicion for histoplasmosis,” which is a fungal lung infection. She contracted this infection while taking the arthritis drug, Humira.

This case was the first Humira trial in the country. Delores was first prescribed Humira as a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker.  She began taking the drug in October 2009 and continued for almost seven months. By May 2010, Delores experienced chest pain and fever. Later she was diagnosed with histoplasmosis. 

The manufacturer of Humira is Abbott Laboratories, which has now spun off this division and is called AbbVie, Inc. The lawsuit filed in 2012 alleged that Abbott negligently chose not to warn Delores or her doctor of the risk of contracting the histoplasmosis infection as a side effect from taking Humira. 

In fact, in September 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned manufacturers of TNF blockers to provide new information about the risk of unrecognized, drug-induced histoplasmosis. When Humira is taken for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, it acts as an immunosuppressant. Those who are immunosuppressed are much more susceptible to infections because the body’s antibodies are not fighting bacteria as it normally does. 

In the complaint, it was alleged that Abbott chose not to send warning letters directly to physicians until 10 days after Delores Tietz was diagnosed and hospitalized in May 2010. 

The Tietz family was represented by several attorneys, including Jim Purdue, Jr. and Gary D. McCallister.   

Milton Tietz for the Estate of Delores Tietz v. Abbott Laboratories, et al.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling pharmaceutical mass tort cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence or by the product defects of pharmaceutical companies’ drugs for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Winfield, Warrenville, Justice, Chicago (Lincoln Village), Chicago (Andersonville), Chicago (Bronzeville), Glenview, Lake Zurich, Lincolnshire and Prospect Heights, Ill.

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