Failure to Warn That a Drug May Cause Severe Intoxication and Death

In Home Ins. Co. v. American Home Prods. Corp., 75 NY2d 196 [1990], a two-year-old child was given a drug in suppository form. The manufacturer was aware of certain risks inherent in the administration of the drug in suppository form, including the risk of severe intoxication and death, yet failed to warn the medical profession of these risks. the child sustained grave injuries including severe impairment of mental function. The matter ultimately came before the New York Court of Appeals which characterized the defendant manufacturer's conduct as willful and wanton and opined that "while no case involving punitive damages in a strict products litigation has come before our court, nothing in New York law or public policy would preclude an award of punitive damages in a strict products case, where the theory of liability is failure to warn and where there is evidence that the failure was wanton or in conscious disregard of the rights of others. A products liability action founded on a failure to warn involves conduct of the defendant having attributes of negligence ... which the jury may find sufficiently wanton or reckless to sustain an award of punitive damages." (Id., at 204.)