Lawsuit: Defective inhaler led to death of Mountlake Terrace man

Pharmaceutical company Perrigo recalled inhalers in September 2020. Months earlier, Antonio Fritz Sr. picked one up at a pharmacy.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118

EVERETT — The family of a Mountlake Terrace man who died during an asthma attack is suing three pharmaceutical companies, alleging his prescription inhaler didn’t work, according to a new lawsuit.

In September 2020, four months after the man’s death, Perrigo Company issued a recall of its albuterol sulfate inhaler. The recall was conducted “due to complaints indicating that some units may not dispense due to clogging,” according to court documents. The complaint alleges Perrigo and the manufacturer of the inhaler created a “defective and unsafe” condition in the devices, and failed to caution about the “unreasonably dangerous” assembly of the product, according to the lawsuit.

On June 12, 2020, Antonio Fritz Sr. filled a prescription for Perrigo’s albuterol sulfate inhaler to help control his asthma, according to the charges. Albuterol sulfate treats asthma by “opening the airways by relaxing the surrounding muscles, making it easier to breathe,” court papers say.

The albuterol sulfate inhaler is also known as a rescue inhaler because it provides “quick relief” for the breathing problems caused by asthma, the documents said.

Less than a week later, Fritz Sr. started having severe asthma symptoms in the morning, according to the lawsuit. His fiancée drove him to the hospital, and Fritz tried to use his prescription inhaler, the lawsuit says.

The inhaler failed to deliver him the medicine, the charges say. Fritz had a heart attack in the car. South County firefighters took him to the hospital, where he died of acute respiratory failure and exacerbation of chronic bronchial asthma, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office determined. He was 28.

In an obituary for Fritz, family remembered him as an avid Dragon Ball Z fan, football lover and devoted father.

“He got to experience his son’s first steps, first words and first holidays. He had a smile and the personality to warm up a room,” the obituary read.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Perrigo had received “thousands” of complaints about the product. The manufacturer of the inhaler, Catalant Pharma Solutions, halted production and distribution of the inhaler in August 2020.

Since 2020, there have been four other asthma-related deaths in Snohomish County, according to the medical examiner’s office. It’s not known if they were related to inhaler malfunctions.

The defendants in the lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Snohomish County Superior Court, were Perrigo, the distributor of the inhaler; Catalant, the manufacturer; and Padagis LLC, a former subsidiary of Perrigo.

The plaintiff’s representation, Friedman Rubin PLLP, declined an interview request. Perrigo also did not immediately respond to The Herald’s request for comment.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486;; Twitter: @EDHJonTall.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Most Read