A 29-year-old Virginia man was paid $4.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed in Orange County that claimed a dietary supplement he bought from a Tustin-based company's store caused him to lose his kidneys and liver, according to his attorney.
Daniel Lineberger received his final payment last week in the settlement involving the Epio-Plex supplement he purchased at Max Muscle's Rancho Cucamonga store, announced Thomas Moore, the plaintiff's Irvine-based lawyer.
"Within five weeks, Dan Lineberger went from being to completely healthy to being told he had one week left to live," reads a patient story on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website. "A drug toxicity from a dietary supplement caused fulminant hepatic (liver) failure, which lead to fulminant renal (kidney) failure."
He was spending Thanksgiving with family in Maryland when his health deteriorated, he was taken to Johns Hopkins and he met first with a hepatologist and, eventually, the transplant team.
"I was scared, confused, quite irritable at times, but only in relation to the sheer torture of the effects of the liver and kidney failure," Lineberger recalled. "I probably remained in denial until the night I got a call in my hospital room telling me they had a donor ... I was glad to have a chance to live, but upset another young person had to pass away and her family changed forever."
The construction supervisor in the commercial sign industry says he "literally went from being 100 percent healthy and never having been to a hospital to being told I had a week to live" and desperately needed a transplant.
Johns Hopkins reports Epio-Plex was recalled by the Food and Drug Administration. Lineberger had purchased the dietary supplement that would go on to cause his liver and kidney failure in October 2009 as a workout aid and to help him lose weight. "Supposedly it would ... leave you with lean muscle," Moore told City News Service of the product that, apparently unbeknownst to his client, had steroids in it.
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Lineberger first started feeling fatigue after taking the product, and within a few weeks was suffering from jaundice. While he received kidney and liver transplants, he must take more medications every day than the average AIDS or HIV-positive patient to keep his body from rejecting the organs and to ward off a blood-clotting disorder he inherited from the transplants, according to Moore.
"Because he's so young, medical science does not have enough data for someone that young with a liver and kidney transplant,'' said Moore, adding it is likely Lineberger will need a new kidney and liver in the future.
The attorney believes he may have helped his client reach the largest resolution of its kind in the dietary supplement industry. Besides the Max Muscle store, Peak Franchising Inc. and manufacturing broker William Mellors were defendants.