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What Alabama’s Rejection of Innovator Liability Means for Drug Victims

If you have been harmed by a generic prescription drug in the state of Alabama, you may be left wondering who is liable for your injuries and the harms suffered. Thanks to an Alabama Supreme Court ruling, the state of Alabama held that brand-name drug manufacturers could be held liable for physical injuries resulting from generic drug products that they neither made nor sold.

This legal concept is termed “innovator liability” since the innovators can be held liable for a victim’s physical injuries even if they are not directly related to the brand name manufacturer’s drugs.

So long as the generic product was an offshoot of the brand name drug, the brand name manufacturer could be held liable for any physical injuries suffered while using the generic drug. Recent developments have changed Alabama’s approach to innovator liability, which will have major liability implications for future prescription drug cases.

Alabama Lawmakers Reject Innovator Liability

Recently, Alabama lawmakers passed a law that was signed by Governor Robert Bentley and reversed the Supreme Court’s innovator liability ruling. This rejection of the Supreme Court ruling functionally changes the legal options of victims who have suffered injuries from these generic drugs.

Prior to the Alabama legislature changing the law, victims in Baldwin, Foley, Mobile and Escambia Counties could litigate against either the generic drug manufacturer or the brand name drug manufacturer.

The law signed by Governor Bentley effectively contains a product identification requirement that creates more stringent requirements on injured plaintiffs. The new legislation states that plaintiffs injured by prescription drugs must prove, “among other elements, that the defendant designed, manufactured, sold or leased the particular product the use of which is alleged to have caused the injury on which the claim is based and not a similar or equivalent product.”

In short, this legal jargon means only one thing: injure plaintiffs cannot sue manufacturers of drug products that they did no use. Going forward, this means that an injured plaintiff’s only recourse will be to sue the manufacturer of the generic drug product, not the brand name manufacturer.

What The Changes to Innovator Liability Means for Alabama Moving Forward

As mentioned, Governor Bentley signed the bill into law, but there are a couple of procedural matters that should be of note to injured victims in Foley, Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia. The measure passed into law by Governor Bentley will go into effect six months after becoming law, and the measure became a law in early May of 2015.

As such, injured victims who would like to still take advantage of the more lenient litigation standards need to act now. By filing a lawsuit now, injured victims may have the option of suing a brand name manufacturer before the new law will take full effect.

Injured victims considering this option should talk to an experienced personal injury attorney who will advise injured victims on the best way to proceed with a lawsuit. It remains to be seen how the state of Alabama will deal with this issue in the years to come, but for the foreseeable future, it seems that innovator liability is an extinct notion in the state of Alabama.

As always, both now and in the years to come, victims who have been harmed by generic drugs or any other form of prescription drugs should contact an Alabama injury attorney who will provide expert legal advice throughout each step of the legal process. Noel B. Leonard is an experienced product liability attorney and represents clients in Escambia, Baldwin, and Mobile Counties every day. Call 251-943-8638 or schedule a consultation online.


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