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Hormone-Injury Claim Yields $4.5 Million Jury Verdict

A Cook County jury has awarded $4.5 million to a mother and her 6 year old daughter, who was born with a limb defect that allegedly resulted from prenatal hormonal therapy.

According to records maintained by the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter, it is the first medical malpractice verdict here involving progesterone and birth defects.

The defendant, Dr. Jae Kim, prescribed progesterone for the plaintiff in 1993, due to spotting during the first trimester of her pregnancy. Although the drug - which thickens the lining in the uterus - was once prescribed to prevent miscarriages, the Federal Drug Administration issued a warning in 1989 that it should not be taken during the first four months of pregnancy.

In the Cook County case, the baby was born without a radius bone in her right arm, her right hand lacked a thumb, and her first and second fingers were fused together. Heather Linstrom, etc. v. Dr. Jae Han, etc., No. SC 94 L 1381.

Terrence K. Hegarty, a partner in Hegarty & Hegarty , represented the plaintiff who were awarded the verdict on Monday. According to him, progesterone is normally prescribed for women who have complications getting pregnant.

“She got pregnant the old-fashioned way, and [the physician] was under FDA reguatlion not to give her [progesterone],” Hegarty said. “I suspect the fertility industry is pushing [progesterone] with non-fertility doctors.”

Dorothy F. French, a partner in the Lisle office of Chicago’s Hinshaw & Culbertson, represented the defendant in the case. According to her, the verdict was based on sympathy for the plaintiff, rather than”evidence or the law.” She argued at trial that the FDA held hearings in 1989 and found the use of progesterone among pregnant women does not cause limb defects. French said her client will appeal the verdict.