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Court Overturns $11-Million Award in Tampon Death

September 03, 1986|Associated Press

DENVER — The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday overturned an $11-million judgment against International Playtex Inc. in a toxic shock syndrome death and ordered a new trial.

The court said that the trial jury in Wichita, Kan., should have been allowed to determine what role the victim might have had in her own death and whether manufacturers of other tampons she also used might have contributed to it.

Playtex had appealed the Feb. 25, 1985, decision by the jury, which held the company liable in part for the 1983 death of Betty O'Gilvie of Wichita.

Records showed that O'Gilvie purchased and used Playtex tampons, became ill and consulted her family doctor, whom she asked about the possibility of toxic shock syndrome.

The physician told her he did not believe toxic shock syndrome was something to be concerned about and diagnosed her condition as scarlet fever and a yeast infection.

O'Gilvie's illness had started on March 30, 1983, and worsened on March 31. She was hospitalized and, despite treatment by specialists, was dead by April 2. The cause of death was listed as toxic shock syndrome.

In the lawsuit, the jury awarded $250,000 to O'Gilvie's estate for her pain and suffering, $1.25 million to her survivors as compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. The percentage of fault was allocated at 20% to her family doctor and 80% to Playtex.

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