Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Dockets: 20-30104, 20-30107
Opinion Date: April 21, 2021
Judge: Leslie H. Southwick
Areas of Law: Drugs & Biotech, Personal Injury
Plaintiffs, three women who suffered persistent hair loss after chemotherapy treatments, sued as a part of multidistrict litigation (MDL) against distributors of the drug Taxotere (docetaxel) for permanent chemotherapy-induced hair loss, asserting a failure-to-warn claim. Louisiana law provides a one-year liberative prescription period for product-liability cases. Furthermore, under Louisiana law, there is a firmly rooted equitable-tolling doctrine known as contra non-valentem agere non-currit prescription, which means “[n]o prescription runs against a person unable to bring an action.” The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Sanofi, agreeing with the district court that plaintiffs’ claims are facially prescribed. The court interpreted Louisiana law to require that once hair loss persisted after six months, contra non-valentem tolled the prescription period until the point when a prospective plaintiff through the exercise of reasonable diligence should have “considered [Taxotere] as a potential root cause of” her injury. In this case, the court concluded that plaintiffs did not act reasonably in light of their injuries and their causes of action were reasonably knowable in excess of one year prior to their filing suit. Therefore, Louisiana’s equitable tolling doctrine of contra non-valentem did not save plaintiffs’ claims.
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