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Jurt Adds $12M in Diet Drug Suit

February 8, 2001

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ A jury has added $12 million in punitive damages to a million-dollar award won by a woman who said her stroke was caused by a diet drug.

E’ola Products Inc. was ordered Wednesday to pay a total of $13.2 million to Rosalie Talbert. The Anchorage woman’s 1995 stroke was blamed on Amp II Pro drops, a liquid dietary herbal supplement.

Attorney Phil Eide, who represented E’ola, said the verdict will be appealed. He said company officials believe their products are safe.

Doctors said the supplement contained ephedrine, an amphetamine-like stimulant.

``I had no clue as to what I was giving up to lose a few pounds,″ Talbert said.

Talbert said she was shopping in a mall in 1993 when she spotted Amp II. It helped her lose weight, so much so that she recommended it to friends, relatives and co-workers.

``I believed it was an all-natural product,″ she said.

But after two years of taking the drug, Talbert suffered a stroke that led to a severe brain injury and six months of missed work at her job with an electric utility.

Talbert’s attorney, Richard Vollertsen, alleged company officials were aware the product posed health risks.

``In our opinion, it’s legal speed,″ added Cynthia Culmo of the Texas Department of Health, who appeared as a witness for Talbert.

Eide said company officials were not negligent, and that the product was tested for safety.

``I think that they were genuinely unaware that their products could cause serious complications,″ Eide said. ``And I don’t believe it does if it’s taken in normal doses.″

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