We represented a 34-year-old woman, pregnant with her first child. As a type 1 diabetic, her body did not produce enough insulin to regulate her blood sugar levels. To keep her blood sugar levels from rising dangerously high (hyperglycemia), she injected insulin regularly. Her health care provider recommended an insulin pump during pregnancy, which would automatically release small amounts of insulin into her body over time. The pump was manufactured with an “auto-off”, a safety feature that turned the machine off if the user did not reset it after a certain number of hours. The “auto-off” feature saved the user from getting an accidental overdose of insulin. However, the manufacturer shipped our client’s doctor the pump with the “auto-off” feature disconnected. The hospital diabetes educator knew about the feature, knew it was turned off, and knew that simply flipping a switch would turn it on. However, she did not activate the “auto-off” or tell the client about it.
Our client returned home with the pump, where she lived alone while her husband was deployed overseas. Three days later, family members found her comatose in her home, due to an insulin overdose (which caused her to have severe low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)). Over the next three months, she slowly emerged from a coma, but with permanent and extensive brain damage. Because the fetus was likely also significantly harmed by the insulin overdose, they lost their baby. We successfully argued that the product was defectively designed, and that the hospital staff member was negligent for knowingly leaving the “auto-off” feature disconnected and not warning our client.