Causation is a key battle line in nutraceutical product liability cases. And at trial over the liver failure a man suffered after taking green tea extract, Edward Nicklaus’s compelling closing on causation helped clear a Kroger-owned nutrition company.
James McCants was forced to undergo a liver transplant in 2014, after taking Vitacost’s green tea extract supplements. At trial, his attorneys requested more than $6.2 million in medical expenses alone, plus unspecified damages for pain and suffering, pointing to evidence linking green tea extract to potential liver damage.
Kroger-owned Vitacost contended that studies showed there was no definitive link between green tea extract and liver failure, and countered that McCants had taken a variety of different over-the-counter medications and supplements that could have damaged his liver.
In closings of the 9-day trial, Nicklaus, of Nicklaus & Associates, reminded jurors McCants spent thousands of dollars on various supplements and over-the-counter medications during the two years leading up to his liver failure.
McCants, Nicklaus told jurors, ultimately acknowledged that he had taken an excessive amount of supplements. But Nicklaus said McCants never consulted a doctor about his supplement intake or the diet that he started in the months before his liver failure, despite warnings to seek medical advice.
“Mr. McCants is a self-treater,” Nicklaus said. “Now there’s nothing wrong with being a self-treater, but when it comes to the amount of supplements and the amount of medication and everything he bought, what you put in your body ladies and gentleman, you ought to get advice for.
“Especially if you’re old enough to know better.”
Jurors deliberated for about 4 hours before clearing Vitacost.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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