Seattle mother sues cold medicine maker after baby dies

by: Deborah Horne Updated:

Photo of child given to KIRO 7 News

[Editor note:] Our story was based on the lawsuit that was filed by a Seattle attorney. Since the story aired, we have learned that the body of the lawsuit contained factual errors. We've corrected those errors. 

Tanessa Desranleau vividly remembers the day she got the terrible news about her 13-month-old son, Jay'Breon.

"They said that I had a family emergency and I have to leave work,"  she said, her eyes filling with tears. "And she says Jay'Breon is dead.  I just like fell on the ground and was crying and screaming."

She had been struggling and couldn't take care of her son. So Jay'Breon was living with his father and girlfriend. But in January, 2014, he was sick with a cold.  And the girlfriend gave him this medicine, touted as "natural" from a century old homeopathic company called Hyland's, based in Los Angeles, California. 

"Just looking at it," she said, holding the box in her hand. "Just like where is this at? In the stores, where?"

"You wouldn't give it to your son?" she was asked.

"No."

"At least based on your filing, it looks like you think this is a kind of poison?" her attorney was asked.

"I do," said Lawand Anderson, a Des Moines lawyer. "And I have uncovered that the primary product in it is a poison."

That product is actually a woody plant native to the Southeast, gelsemium sempervirens. At least 10 children died homeopathic teething gels made by several companies, including Hyland's. Last September, the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers to stop taking the teething tablets while it investigates reports that they can cause seizures and other health problems. Hyland's agreed to remove the tablets in U.S. stores, but the FDA has not weighed in on Hyland's cold tablets.

"Has somebody dropped the ball on this?" Anderson was asked.

"I think this is all the way around a tragedy," said Anderson. "Outrageous and something that needs to be brought to light."

"I just want justice out of this," Desranleau said.  "I just want something where this medicine is not allowed to do this other people's lives."

The suit was filed a couple of months ago. But a lawyer working for Hyland’s told KIRO 7 News that the company has not been served with the lawsuit.  So it has nothing to respond to yet.

Want to talk about the news of the day? Join the conversation on this story and read trending headlines on the KIRO 7 News Facebook page. Follow @KIRO7Seattle here