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Martin v. Abbott Laboratories
Washington Supreme Court
689 P.2d 368 (1984)
Diethylstilbestrol (DES) was manufactured and marketed as a miscarriage preventive by numerous companies. DES was a fungible drug, and prescriptions were filled with any available stock. A study linked cancer in young women with their mothers’ ingestion of DES during pregnancy. Shirley Martin took DES, and her daughter Rita Martin was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 17. Shirley knew the dosage of DES she took but not the company that manufactured the pill. Shirley and Rita (the Martins) (plaintiffs) sued numerous drug companies (the companies) (defendants) for negligence based on the companies’ concerted action in obtaining Food and Drug Administration approval of and marketing DES. The trial court granted summary judgment to companies that did not market DES in Washington or in the dosage or form Shirley took. The court held that the Martins had stated a cause of action against the remaining defendants, Stanley Drug Products Inc. (Stanley) and Kirkman Laboratories Inc. (Kirkman), under the alternative-liability theory. On appeal, the Martins argued broader liability was justified. Stanley and Kirkman argued they should have been granted summary judgment because neither company was identified as the manufacturer of the DES ingested.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Dore, J.)
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