MIAMI, Florida – A woman in Miami has filed a lawsuit against multiple defendants from New Jersey, New York, and Florida, claiming that an allegedly defective artificial tear product caused her to have her eye removed.
The plaintiff, Clara Oliva, is being represented by Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen law firm partners Natasha S. Cortes, Alex Arteaga-Gomez, and associate Ryan Yaffa.
The defendants in the case include Global Pharma Healthcare Private Ltd., EzriCare LLC in New Jersey, Aru Pharma Inc in New York, Leon Medical Centers LLC, and HealthSpring of Florida Inc.
The 42-count lawsuit will be heard by the Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Carlos Guzman, and the allegations range from strict liability for a manufacturing defect to implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.
According to the complaint, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated adverse events implicating various over-the-counter eye drops, prompting EzriCare to issue a statement in January over the contamination of its artificial tears product.
The next month, the CDC announced a multi-state outbreak of a “rare strain of extensively drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa”.
EzriCare then issued a statement acknowledging that it stopped the distribution of the product “to the greatest extent possible,” and that it is cooperating with the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Oliva alleged in the complaint that following FDA pressure, Global Pharma voluntarily recalled the artificial tears product while acknowledging dozens of reported adverse events and admitting that the product could cause blindness. However, the FDA noted failures in its response, the complaint said.
According to the complaint, Oliva has a history of dry eyes related to her prescribed contact lenses, which she has been using for about 30 years.
She obtained her eye drops from Leon Medical through her HealthSpring insurance plan, starting in May.
The complaint claimed that soon after, Leon Medical doctors prescribed her antimicrobial and antibiotic treatment in order to treat her noticeably red, swollen, and abnormally watery right eye, which worsened leading to her admittance to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s emergency room in August.
By the end of the month, Oliva had turned to Bascom Palmer over a dozen times as the modifications to her medications continued to fail, per the complaint. Ultimately, the hospital surgically removed her right eye and replaced it with a plastic implant. She is now legally blind.
“This lawsuit is about safety and protecting everyone,” said Ryan Yaffa. “It’s a standard over-the-counter product that a huge portion of the general population is using. No one should be subjected to this unreasonable risk of harm just by getting products they need on a daily basis.”