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Torts Keyed to Franklin
Hymowitz v. Eli Lilly & Co.
Citation:73 N.Y.2d 487, 539 N.E.2d 1069, 541 N.Y.S.2d 941 (N.Y. 1989)
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Hymowitz and over 500 similar actions sued in New York courts for injuries resulting from the latent effects of DES, a drug previously used as a miscarriage preventative, after their mothers used it during pregnancy. However, the plaintiffs faced two main barriers to recovery: (1) tying the specific manufacturer to a particular case was generally impossible; and (2) many claims were barred by the statute of limitations before injury was discovered.
About 300 companies produced the drug during the 24 years that DES was sold for pregnancy use, and the long latency period component made it difficult for the mothers to remember which manufacturer produced the drug they took. Additionally, the statute of limitations‘ period began upon exposure to the toxic substances and not discovery of the injury resulting from the toxic substances.
The New York legislature amended the statute of limitations rule, such that the period began at discovery of the latent effects of exposure to the toxic substance and permitted causes of action for exposure to DES that had been previously banned for one year.
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