August 21, 2017

Another Lexapro Suicide Case Going to Trial

On July 13, 2015, US District Judge Tena Campbell in Salt Lake City, Utah issued an opinion soundly rejecting Forest Laboratories’ motions challenging the scientific propriety of our expert opinion evidence that Lexapro caused Kurt Shipley to take his own life, and rejecting two separate arguments for summary judgment. The opinion can be found here. The case should be scheduled for trial sometime in the coming months.

Forest first challenged the testimony of Yale-educated psychiatrist Dr. George Glass who attributes Mr. Shipley’s death to Lexapro. The Court “disagrees” with Forest’s several criticisms, and holds that they go to the “weight of Dr. Glass’s testimony, not its admissibility.”

Judge Campbell then joined the chorus of numerous other judges who have rejected Big Pharma’s argument that federal law trumps or “preempts” state products liability law. She rejected Forest’s contention that the paid-for testimony of former FDA official Thomas Laughren should control the legal analysis, noting that “he no longer works for the FDA,” that his “opinions do not reflect the FDA’s official position,” and, in fact, that his “testimony is countered by evidence related to the FDA’s actual conduct.”

Finally, Judge Campbell rejected Forest’s technical “learned intermediary” defense, in part, because the law presumes that, IF Forest had provided a legally adequate warning – which they did NOT – then Kurt Shipley’s prescribing physician would have heeded it.

Andy Vickery, lead trial counsel for the Shipley family, said, “I am delighted with this thorough and scholarly ruling, and look forward to presenting the evidence of this travesty to a jury of Utah citizens.”

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