Maryville parents file lawsuit against maker of diabetes products after daughter’s death

Abbie Harper (source: family photo)

MARYVILLE (WATE) – A Maryville couple has filed a lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories and other manufacturers of diabetes care products after their University of Chicago law student daughter allegedly died after using diabetic test strips that were recalled only days later.

Ken and Leyanne Harper say in the suit that their daughter Abbie, 23, used FreeStyle brand test strips and a FreeStyle blood glucose meter embedded in an Omnipod insulin pump. The Harpers say the meter and strips produced “erroneously low blood glucose results,” which caused Abbie’s death in November 2014.

According to the wrongful death suit, the test trips were defective because of a manufacturing error and the FreeStyle meter embedded in the glucose pump was not compatible with FreeStyle test strips.

The Harper family said in a statement that their main goal is to protect other people from suffering similar fates.

Abbie was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 16, a disease whose effects are only clearly understood by those families who are affected. Abbie was very determined to pursue her dreams and not let the disease get in the way. She was intelligent as well as competitive, excelling at Maryville High School in Maryville, Tennessee in athletics and academics, at Miami University of Ohio in its Honors program, and in her 2L year at The University of Chicago Law School at the time of her death.

Abbie trusted and relied upon her diabetic test strips and glucose monitor. They were her lifeline. We hope this lawsuit makes the diabetic community more aware of the products that we believe failed Abbie, products she trusted to keep her alive. These products were recalled at various intervals from 4 days to 3 months after her death. Unfortunately, it is too late to save Abbie’s life, but we hope it is not too late to protect other people from unrecognized erroneous blood sugar readings and even death.

As with any family that has tragically experienced the death of a child, there are NO words to describe the excruciating pain. Our daughter, Abbie, was extraordinary, not just to us, but also the countless people that were eager to share stories with us of her selflessness, encouragement, and friendship. We, her family, are not the only ones who will continue to suffer. Abbie was pursuing her dream of a law degree at The University of Chicago and planned to use her intelligence, generosity, kindness and selflessness as an attorney dedicated to helping those who could not help themselves.

Her heart was huge, and she had already made an enormous impact on the lives she had touched with her contagious personality, smile and servant’s heart. There is nothing, other than our faith in God, that can heal our hearts for the monumental loss of Abbie’s life.

Abbott Laboratories also issued a statement saying: “Our sympathies are with the Harper family. We have been committed to supporting people with diabetes for 20 years and the safety and quality of our products is our top priority.”

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