In April 2000, a Vermont musician named Diana Levine went to the hospital with a migraine. There, a nurse incorrectly injected Phenergan, an anti-nausea drug, into her vein rather than her muscle. This led to gangrene and, eventually, the amputation of much of her right arm. Levine sued and won more than $6 million from a Vermont jury, which concluded that Wyeth, the drug company, had failed to warn her properly about the risks of the drug.
Peter H. Schuck is the Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law at Yale Law School. The Supreme Court's decision yesterday in Wyeth v. Levine gives unprecedented power to juries in deciding issues far outside their expertise. Though the details of the case are technical, its implications are far-reaching. Diana Levine, a musician, sued Wyeth for tort damages after her arm was amputated due to gangrene caused by a physician assistant's gross misuse of a permissible method of intravenous administration ("IV-push") of Wyeth's anti-nausea drug, Phenergan.