A multi-million dollar civil lawsuit filed by a Palestine woman against the manufacturer of a popular diet drug has been rescheduled for June.

On Jan. 31, a mistrial was declared by Third State District Judge Jim Parsons in a lawsuit filed by Beverly “Kim” Tilmon of Palestine against Wyeth Inc., seeking a total of $180 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Parsons declared a mistrial on the trial’s second day after ruling defense attorneys “exceeded the boundaries” during opening statements.

Jury selection in the “Fen-Phen” trial is now set to begin June 6, with the trial expected to last up to three weeks.

Tilmon claims to have developed primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH), a progressive, typically fatal disease, after taking Pondimin (fenfluramine) and Ionamin (phentermine) over a four-month period in 1997.

Wyeth — formerly American Home Products — manufactured Pondium which was taken off the U.S. market in September 1997 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after some users began to display an abnormally high rate of valvular heart disease.

Wyeth has maintained that Tilmon does not have PPH, asserting that many of her health problems — including fatigue, sleep apnea and thickening of the left ventricle — are due to her “morbid obesity.”

Tilmon was 5-5 and weighed approximately 270 pounds with a body mass index (BMI) of 45 when she began using the diet drugs in March 1997, according to defense attorneys.

The plaintiff’s attorneys, however, are alleging that Tilmon developed PPH after taking Pondium, saying the drug lacked proper warnings on its label and that Wyeth “developed a plan to neutralize” any person making statements about potential negative effects of using the drug.

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Paul Stone may be contacted via e-mail at pstone@palestineherald.com

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