Cell Tech Sued for Wrongful Death


In April 2005, the family of Melissa Blake, who died in 2003 from liver and kidney failure, filed suit against Cell Tech International, alleging the company supplied her with algae products that contained toxic levels of microcystins. Cell Tech markets algae products made from blue-green algae harvested from Klamath Lake, Oregon. Blake worked for the company as a receptionist. The suit papers state that (a) the autopsy report showed liver and kidney damage suggestive of exposure to toxins that occur with Blue Green Algae called microcystins, and (b) tests on Cell Tech products found in Blake's home found high amounts of microcystins. In December 2006, Cell Tech changed its name to Simplexity.

In March 2007, a Multnomah County Circuit judge ruled that theexpert testimony offered by the the plaintiff was inadmissible and the suit was dismissed. Blake's family appealed, but the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal.


IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE STATE OF OREGON
FOR THE COUNTY OF MULTNOMAH

ESTATE OF MELISSA KAY BLAKE,
deceased, by and through her
personal representative,
SUSAN LYNN BLAKE,

Plaintiff,

v.

CELL TECH INTERNATIONAL
INCORPORATED, A CORPORATION OF
DELAWARE, a foreign corporation;
and THE NEW ALGAE COMPANY, an
Oregon Corporation,

Defendents


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Case No.

COMPLAINT
(Wrongful Death; Product Liability)

Claims Not Subject to MandatoryArbitration

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff alleges:

1. Susan Lynn Blake is the duly appointed representative for the Estate of Melissa Kay Blake. Melissa Kay Blake (“Ms. Blake”) died April 18, 2003 at age 34 in Multnomah County, Oregon. Ms. Blake is survived by her son, father, and mother, Susan Lynn Blake.

2. At all material times, defendant Cell Tech International Incorporated, A Corporation of Delaware is a Delaware Corporation, registered and doing business in the State of Oregon.

3. At all material times, defendant The New Algae Company is an Oregon Corporation doing business in the State of Oregon.

4. At all material times, defendants Cell Tech International Incorporated, a Corporation of Delaware and The New Algae Company (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Cell Tech”), and each of them, were in engaged in the business of harvesting, processing, manufacturing, distributing, marketing, sales, service, and supplying algae products, including but not limited to Blue Green Algae dietary supplements, to consumers. At all material times, Ms. Blake consumed numerous dietary supplement products, as intended and encouraged by Cell Tech, which included Blue Green Algae products and/or derivatives from Cell Tech. 

5. In February 2003, Ms. Blake developed hepatorenal syndrome, and severe liver and renal failure. Despite medical treatment, her condition worsened and she was transferred for care and treatment to Oregon Health & Science University (“OHSU”) on or about February 18, 2003. On April 1, 2003, Ms. Blake suffered gastrointestinal bleed causing hypovolemic shock. Subsequently, she suffered respiratory failure and hemodynamic instability. Ms. Blake eventually died on April 18, 2003 at OHSU.

6. On April 21, 2003 an autopsy was performed upon Ms. Blake at OHSU, by Peter Stenzel, M.D. In this autopsy, Subsequent lab investigations requested by OHSU of algae products discovered in the home of Ms. Blake indicated that a high amounts of microcystins existed in the algae products which had been supplied to Ms. Blake by Cell Tech.

7. At the time of the harvesting, processing, manufacturing, distributing, marketing, sales, service, supplying, sale, and use of algae products as heretofore alleged, the algae products were dangerously defective and presented an unreasonable danger to users, including plaintiff, in one or more of the following ways:

(a) the product(s) contained dangerously high levels of contaminants and/or toxins, including but not limited to microcystins;

(b) the product(s) did not adequately warn of the dangers associated with ingestion or consumption of the product(s);

(c) the product(s) did not adequately warn of the dangers associated with continued ingestion or consumption of the product(s); and/or

(d) the product(s) did not adequately warn of the potential presence of contaminants and/or toxins, including but not limited to microcystins and the dangers and/or hazards associated with ingestion of microcystins in the human body.

8. As a direct and foreseeable result of the dangerous defects in the algae products, as heretofore alleged, Ms. Blake suffered the medical conditions, conscious pain, suffering and ultimately death as previously described on April 18, 2003.

9. The negligence of defendants, and each of them, as set forth herein was a substantial factor in causing the death of Ms. Blake.

10. As a result of the negligence of defendants, and each of them, as set forth herein, the Estate of Melissa Kay Blake has incurred economic damages in the form of funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and income, and medical damages, in an amount to be further determined at trial, but not to exceed the sum of $500,000.00. 

11. As a further result of the negligence of defendants, and each of them as set forth herein, Ms. Blake’s surviving son and parents lost the society, companionship and services of their mother and daughter, including but not limited to, the loss of love, guidance, affection and support, all to their noneconomic damages in such amount as the jury may deem just and appropriate, not to exceed $1,500,000.00.

WHEREFORE, the Estate of Melissa Kay Blake prays for judgment against defendants, and each of them, as follows:

  1. For plaintiff’s noneconomic damages in such amount as the jury may deem just and appropriate, not to exceed the sum of $1,500,000.00
  2. For plaintiff’s economic damages in such amount as may be proven at trial, and as the jury may deem just and appropriate, not to exceed the sum of $500,000.00;
  3. For plaintiff’s costs and disbursements incurred herein;
  4. For such other relief as the court may deem appropriate.

DATED this ____ day of April, 2005.

SAVAGE BOWERSOX SUPPERSTEIN, LLP

____________________________
J. William Savage, OSB 77334
Michael Banks, OSB 93206
Of Attorneys for Plaintiffs
Trial Attorney

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff hereby demands trial by jury of all issues triable by a jury.

____________________________
J. William Savage, OSB 77334
Michael Banks, SOB 93206
Of Attorneys for Plaintiffs
Trial Attorneys

This article was revised on March 16, 2007.

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