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Gadolinium Poisoning Lawsuits Filed by Chuck Norris, MRI Patients


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Doctor holding MRI using gadolinium

Actor Chuck Norris claims a contrasting agent used in his wife’s MRI poisoned her and made her very sick.

He and his wife, Gena, sued three makers of the agent, a rare earth metal known as gadolinium, last November seeking $10 million in damages.

And the Norrises aren’t the only ones taking legal action.

Just recently, another California man, Jeffrey Steiner, filed a gadolinium lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of California, alleging he was poisoned by gadolinium during several MRIs.

The Norris and Steiner cases are still pending in San Francisco.

After the Norrises filed suit, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has increased its warnings about the dangers of gadolinium and researches have published studies giving new insight.

In May, the FDA approved new medication guides for all gadolinium-based contrasting agents (GBCAs).

The agency in December required new warnings and other safety measures for all GBCAs in MRIs. The FDA warnings concern gadolinium remaining in patients’ bodies long-term following injections.

FDA Requires Gadolinium Studies

The agency required GBCA manufacturers to conduct human and animal studies on the safety of the contrasting agents. The agency said it’s continuing to evaluate the safety of the heavy metal and will disclose information as it becomes available.

The contrasting agents are used with MRI scans to examine the body for the existence of things like cancer, infections or bleeding. The GCBAs are injected into a vein to help improve the ability of health care professionals to see internal organs, blood vessels and tissue during an MRI.

The FDA says that GCBAs are mostly eliminated from the body through the kidneys, but trace amounts may remain behind long term. According to the medication guides, gadolinium can remain in the brain, bones, skin and other parts of the body for several months, even years.

According to the FDA, the only known health effect linked to gadolinium retention is a rare condition, nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). This condition is a disease of fibrosis of the skin and internal organs similar to scleroderma. It is seen in a small subgroup of patients with pre-existing kidney failure.

Study: Patients with Impaired Kidneys at Risk

The agency says it has also received reports of adverse events involving multiple organ systems in patients with normal kidney function.

People who get many doses of gadolinium medicines, women who are pregnant and young children may be at increased risk of harm gadolinium staying in the body.

The higher risk for patients with impaired kidney function was confirmed in a study published in July in the European Journal of Radiology. That study found that patients on dialysis had higher retention of gadolinium in their bodies than patients who weren’t on dialysis.

Information related to the prevalence of gadolinium retention in the body may be limited because few radiologists report when it occurs, according to the results of a worldwide survey published in February in Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology.

That survey found 58 percent of radiologists do not or would not report when gadolinium remains in the brain. The most common reason given for not disclosing this fact was to prevent unnecessary patient anxiety.

Chuck and Gena Norris Allege Gadolinium Health

According to Gena and Chuck Norris’ lawsuit, Gena Norris developed Gadolinium Deposition Disease following a routine MRI procedure. She’s been repeatedly hospitalized for debilitating pain and burning throughout her body. She also has cognitive deficits, kidney damage, loss of energy and the ability to move around and trouble breathing because of damage to her ribs.

Gena Norris has had to go outside of mainstream medicine to treat the condition, the lawsuit says. The most common treatment to remove gadolinium, chelation, is not approved by the FDA. Chelation involves injecting medication that binds to metals in the bloodstream.

The medication and the metals are then filtered through the kidneys and released in urine.

The Norrises say in their lawsuit that they have had to spend close to $2 million to treat Gena Norris’ condition.

Steiner, the California man who recently filed suit, says in his complaint that he developed fibrosis in his organs, skin and bones, and has retained gadolinium in the neurons of his brain. He says he had normal kidney function at the time of his MRIs.

Elaine Silvestrini
Written By Elaine Silvestrini Writer

Elaine Silvestrini is an award-winning journalist with 30 years of experience covering state and federal court systems. She joined Drugwatch in 2017. Her coverage for Drugwatch has been cited in the CDC’s Public Health Law News and the USA Today Network. Some of her qualifications include:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention certificates in Health Literacy
  • Experience as an assistant investigator for the Federal Public Defender
  • Loyola Law School Journalist Law School Fellowship
Edited By

9 Cited Research Articles writers follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, court records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and interviews with qualified experts. Review our editorial policy to learn more about our process for producing accurate, current and balanced content.

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018, May 16). FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA warns that gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) are retained in the body; requires new class warnings. Retrieved from
  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018, May 13). Information on Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents. Retrieved from
  3. Medscape. (2018, May 22). Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis. Retrieved from
  4. Fitzgerald, R.T., et al. (2018, February 7). The Impact of Gadolinium Deposition on Radiology Practice: An International Survey of Radiologists. Retrieved from
  5. Rahati. F.K., et al. (2018, July). Does renal function affect gadolinium deposition in the brain? Retrieved from
  6. Healthline. (n.d.). What Does Chelation Therapy Treat? Retrieved from
  7. Superior Court for the State of California County of San Francisco. (2017, November 1). Gena Norris and Chuck Norris, also known as Carlos Ray Norris vs. McKesson Corporation, et al. Complaint for Damages. Retrieved from
  8. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.). Medication Guides. Retrieved from
  9. United States District Court Northern District of California. (2018, June 27). Jeffrey Steiner vs. Bracco Diagnostics, Inc., et al. Complaint for Damages. Retrieved from
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