The lawsuits pile on against makers of weight loss supplements
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of people have now filed lawsuits against USPlabs, the manufacturers of OxyElite Pro products after an outbreak of liver injuries.
The problem was widespread between April and October of last year and prompted the state to do a voluntary recall before the company pulled the products from store shelves.
In just six months, the Centers for Disease Control says 72 people who took an OxyElite variety got sick.
47 of those had to be hospitalized. Lance Taniguchi, a 22-year old Pearl City man was one of those. He spent weeks in the hospital with liver damage.
Three people had liver transplants, including 22-year old Kenneth Waikiki from Kona.
One person, Sonnette Marras, a mother of seven from Maui, died.
Attorney Wayne Parsons represents 38 people who filed lawsuits against USPlabs, the owners, and GNC Stores.
Court documents claim negligence and defective design, among other things.
Federal, state and local health officials determined that an ingredient in the supplements -- aegeline -- was new and the Food and Drug Administration says the company never notified the agency of its use.
On October 11, 2013, the FDA says they issued a warning letter to USPlabs telling them the supplements were found to be adulterated, and told them to cease distribution of the product.
The agency also reports that on November 6, 2013, the FDA told USPlabs that investigators found a link between the use of certain OxyElite Pro products and a cluster of liver illnesses reported in Hawaii. Other cases were found later in a number of other states.
On November 9,2013, USPlabs recalled the products.
Court documents show the defendants tried to have the case dismissed saying it is ambiguous and lacks evidence.
Wayne Parsons says more lawsuits could follow. His clients are seeking damages that vary from tens of thousands of dollars all the way to ten million.
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