Journalism in the Public Interest

Late Settlement Averts First Jury Test For Allegations Against General Electric’s Omniscan

The last-minute deal keeps confidential company documents that could shed new light on claims that GE’s drug, used to enhance MRIs, caused a crippling disease in patients with bad kidneys and that the company hid its risks


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A last-minute settlement has averted what would have been the first trial involving General Electric’s drug Omniscan and allegations that it has caused patients to contract a crippling disease.

The terms of the settlement, reached late Sunday night, are confidential, said lawyers involved in the case, which was scheduled to start today in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.

As ProPublica has reported, had it gone before a jury, the case could have provided the first public disclosure of evidence behind claims that Omniscan, a drug used to enhance MRIs, caused hundreds of kidney patients to suffer nephrogenic system fibrosis, a rare and potentially fatal condition, and that GE’s health care unit hid the drug’s risks.

The main plaintiff in the Cleveland case, Loralei Knase, 68, of Coon Rapids, Minn., was injected with Omniscan for several scans between 2003 and 2005. Knase had severe kidney disease that later necessitated a transplant. In the fall of 2005, her entire body became stiff and swollen, symptoms of nephrogenic system fibrosis, or NSF. She is now profoundly disabled.

GE has maintained that Omniscan has been used safely on tens of millions of patients and that it came with adequate warnings. The causes of NSF, are still undetermined, the company says.

In a written statement, officials with GE Healthcare, the unit that makes Omniscan, said Sunday’s settlement “does not represent an admission of wrongdoing by the company.”

"The Knase matter has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both parties,” the company said. “Patient safety is our number one priority at GE Healthcare. The company remains committed to improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare around the world."

Observers also were watching the Knase lawsuit closely as a possible window into hundreds of other cases filed against GE and makers of similar imaging agents.

Some manufacturers of such drugs, all of which contain the metal gadolinium, tended to settle cases early on. GE – facing far more lawsuits than any other company – was initially reluctant to do so, but has changed its posture in recent months, settling hundreds of cases, lawyers involved with the litigation say.

Last night, GE settled scores of similar cases in addition to the suit brought by Knase, according to one lawyer.

One byproduct of such deals: The veil on confidential GE documents remains in place. The company has persuaded courts to keep many documents under seal, arguing they contain trade secrets and other confidential information.

GE has declined to say how many lawsuits are still pending and how many have been settled. The exact number of settlements is hard to quantify, in part because plaintiff lawyers can negotiate for groups of clients, some of whom may opt out later if they are dissatisfied with their shares of the recovery.

GE faced more than 300 cases before last night’s negotiations, lawyers involved in the cases say.

A check-up on the judge’s background hearing this case will demonstrate that a settlement was forced by the court that avoided a trial. This judge was most likely in the pocket of GE with a quid pro quo of some type from before the case or a promise afterwards. This is just another example of American greed. No matter how bad things get, corporations will reach out make a contact based on their exposure to be sure they are protected.

This is what the courts have come to. They are their to protect their friends, not the citizens.

There is an interesting case in NJ where the Banksters had the courts move a judge in from from another county to effect a decision in total conflict with the 200 year old Uniform Commercial Code.

Now its whatever it takes and whatever it costs.

If it takes 3/4 months to set another jury test and then yet another last minute settlement this could go forever. Does this mean that G.E. are beyond the reach of the law.

I`m not surewho truebee is but am interested in his comments.
I have read about this for 6 years now and do not understand about ” the judges background.”
Is it possible the the Knase`s were offered 10 million and decided to sttle while bth were still alive and able to spend it?......makes perfect sense to me…..and a Judge CANNOT make the plaintiff settle

It would be helpful for everyone if one of these cases would go to trial against GE or Bayer. I’d love to see the evidence alluded to in the Robbie Booker vs. GEHC motion for leave to add punitive damages. The attorneys had all kinds of good stuff in that motion.  You might say they used a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  If you haven’t read the motion I encourage you to do so.  It alludes to the fact that GE knew this stuff was toxic before it was approved by the FDA.  Apparently a draft report that Nycomen, predecessor to GE, had showed Omniscan accumulated in the liver and kidneys of mice more so than the other contrast agents and it never got in the hands of the FDA they believe.  And to make matters worse for GE Omniscan was extremely unstable and broke away from the chelate and they knew it but did nothing about it.  And there is more so anyone interested in knowing what they did and when they knew it should read that motion.  It’s only four pages.  It makes you wonder if anyone is safe from these contrasting agents especially Omniscan.  GE has the lion’s share of the lawsuits filed against them. 

Yes I would pay for front row seating for a trial against GE or Bayer.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

Omniscan: Specter of MRI Disease Haunts General Electric

A rare disease linked to MRI scans has left GE fending off claims of liability.

The Story So Far

General Electric is in a liability fight over a rare and sometimes fatal disease that has been linked to a dye used for MRI scans, with a preponderance of cases involving a GE product called Omniscan.

The disease, nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, or NSF, isn’t fully understood, but nearly all cases have involved patients with kidney problems who were injected with MRI contrast agents.

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