Prior to participating in a unit workout at his Texas army base, twenty-two year-old Army private Michael Lee Sparling took a recommended dose of the workout supplement, “Jack3d” which he purchased at a GNC store. Sparling, despite being in excellent physical condition after having recently completed basic training, collapsed within ten minutes and died of cardiac arrest. Sparling’s parents blame the supplement for their son’s untimely death, and are pursuing a lawsuit against the product’s manufacturer, USPLabs, and the distributor, GNC. The supplement contains the stimulant dimethylamylamine (or “DMAA”), which certain medical experts and regulators allege has effects on the body similar to those of amphetamines.
Who is responsible if I am injured by a dietary or workout supplement?
Under federal law, supplement manufacturers are responsible for developing, testing and guaranteeing product safety. Unlike prescription drug manufacturers who are required to prove that their drugs are safe and effective for use by humans, supplement makers are only required to submit information regarding the contents of their products.
Types of supplement and drug-related product liability claims
Much like product liability claims based on pharmaceutical drug usage, product liability claims arising from injuries caused by supplements are often based on the following legal theories:
These types of products liability cases claim that a design flaw makes the product inherently dangerous, even if it was manufactured in perfect compliance with the manufacturer’s specifications. Cars that have a tendency to flip over while turning are an example of this type of defect.
Manufacturing defect products liability cases seek to prove that the product is faulty due to an error in its production process which causes the product to differ from other products manufactured under similar conditions. A supplement that is tainted in the manufacturing process, thereby making the drug dangerous, is an example of such a defect.
Failure to Warn
This type of product liability claim arises when a product manufacturer or designer fails to warn or instruct product users regarding unforeseen dangers linked to using the product that would require the user to exercise extra caution. A failure to warn regarding a supplement’s potential interaction with another drug serves as an example of this type of defect.