California Case Alleges Advanced Medical Optics Product Led to Sight-Threatening Infection
(Santa Ana, CA) June 4, 2007 — The Dallas-based law firm Schmidt & Clark announced today that it represents a Southern California couple in what is believed to be the first personal injury lawsuit brought against the manufacturers of Complete® MoisturePlus™ contact lens solution since the product was voluntarily recalled on May 25 at the request of the Food & Drug Administration (Case No. 07 CC 01296).
The lawsuit, naming ocular products manufacturer Advanced Medical Optics, Inc., and others as defendants, was filed this morning in Orange County Superior Court by well-known products liability litigators Thomas M. Moore and Ronald Labriola of Moore Labriola LLP in Newport Beach, California, who will act as co-counsel on the case.
The lawsuit alleges that plaintiff Michael Connolly, a married 37 year old systems analyst and father of two, developed a serious eye infection in August 2006, which was later diagnosed as Acanthamoeba keratitis, a painful and sight-threatening condition caused by a family of organisms most commonly found in soil and water. The infection can be chronic, resistant to treatment, and often requires surgical interventions such as corneal transplantation. It not infrequently leads to blindness.
Connolly, a long-time contact lens user, developed his infection during a time when he was using Complete® MoisturePlus™ solution to clean and disinfect his lenses.
Although considered rare in the general population, Acanthamoeba keratitis is diagnosed most often in contact lens wearers who appear to be unusually susceptible to the infection when lenses are not adequately disinfected.
The complaint cites CDC data suggesting that consumers who disinfected their lenses with Complete® MoisturePlus™ had a seven-fold increased risk of developing Acanthamoeba keratitis compared with those who used other lens disinfectants.
According to the complaint, studies published well before Mr. Connolly’s injury showed that the disinfectant in Complete® MoisturePlus™ was “vastly inferior” to hydrogen peroxide as well as other so-called “multipurpose lens solutions” on the market in eradicating Acanthamoeba.
The Connollys also contend that Advanced Medical Optics and its former parent company, Allergan, Inc., failed to appropriately design or reformulate the solution or warn consumers and that they concealed information concerning the effectiveness of the product for fear of losing market share in the competitive eye care industry. “Simply put,” said Schmidt & Clark partner Michael Schmidt, “the defendants apparently decided they would rather have their customers face the risk of infection than risk their own financial interests.”
According to the lawsuit, Mr. Connolly’s infection remains unresolved, and he suffers from significant vision loss and eye pain. He claims that the infection adversely affected his career and he lives in fear that his vision will be permanently and severely damaged. Connolly’s wife, Jennifer, also filed a companion claim based on the impact of her husband’s illness on their home life. “These are good, hardworking people who don’t deserve to be put through this ordeal,” said Schmidt, who also noted that his firm is currently investigating a number of Complete® MoisturePlus™ claims and expects additional lawsuits to follow.
The complaint seeks unspecified compensatory damages as well as punitive damages for conduct that the Connollys call “despicable.”