Target Eye Drops Lawsuit Filed Over Bacterial Contamination that Led to Vision Loss

The lawsuit claims Target did not remove the contaminated eye drops from circulation until November 2023, nearly a year after bacterial contamination was first detected.

A New York couple has filed a vision loss lawsuit against Target, claiming that the retailer left eye drops on store shelves that were known to be contaminated with bacteria, resulting in a severe eye infection.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by William Franz, and his wife Annalisa last month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, indicating that Target sold eye drops contaminated with Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, months after it was known that certain eye drops manufactured in India were causing severe infections and vision loss.

According to the lawsuit, William Franz purchased UP & UP High Performance Lubricant Eye Drops in April 2023, which were manufactured at the same factories in India linked to a massive eye drops recall first announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February 2023, after at least 55 reports were confirmed involving users who had suffered eye infections after exposure to bacteria in eye drops, with several resulting in permanent blindness and at least one death from a severe bloodstream infection.

The case joins a growing number of eye drop lawsuits filed over the past year, by individuals who experienced a wide range of health problems after exposure to the bacteria, including vision loss, eye infections, bloodstream infections and other injuries, including several cases where users required surgical removal of their eye ball after using variations of the recalled eye drops.

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Franz indicates that Target continued to sell its Eye Drops manufactured in India for months after learning about the problems, and did not warn consumers about the risk of bacterial contamination until at least November 2023, months after several other major retailers had recalled their eye drops, including CVS, Walmart, Rite Aid, EzriCare, Rugby, Leader and Velocity.

According to the vision loss filed against Target, Franz suffered a severe eye infection and lost vision in his right eye, and he had previously had his left eye removed years before due to Type 1 diabetes. Franz is a well known Silver-age comic book writer, known for writing “The Iron Corporal”, “The Eagle” and “The Lonely War of Captain Willy Schultz”.

“Plaintiff reasonably relied on Defendant to sell products that are safe and free from harmful known substances, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and to promptly and clearly inform and warn about the dangers of the Eye Drops,” according to the complaint. “Plaintiffs would not have purchased and used the Eye drops, and Plaintiff William Franz would not have suffered physical injuries, had Defendant disclosed the risk that the Eye drops were contaminated with dangerous bacteria.”

The lawsuit presents claims of design defect, manufacturing defect, failure to provide adequate warning, negligence and loss of consortium.

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