On March 12, 2008, a Philadelphia judge denied Paxil manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) motion to dismiss the claims of a family whose husband and father committed suicide while taking Paxil, in Collins v. SmithKline Beecham, d/b/a GlaxoSmithKline. The Honorable Allan L. Tereshko, Coordinating Judge, Complex Litigation Program, in the Court of Common Pleas, First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia County, denied GSK’s motion for summary judgment on Federal Preemption grounds. Judge Tereshko stated in his order that he “rejects Defendant’s theory of preemption for a number of reasons.”
Notably, the court held:
“Defendant’s position is clearly not sustainable. Federal law in question unquestionably places the duty upon the manufacturer and does not preempt a State’s ability to allow one of its citizens to inquire into whether the manufacturer breached that duty.” (Order at p. 9)
The family is represented by the national law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman and the issue of preemption was fully briefed by the firm. Baum Hedlund currently has 13 cases pending in the Paxil Mass Torts Program (MTP) in Philadelphia, including the Collins case. For 18 years (since 1990), Baum Hedlund has been at the forefront of the SSRI litigation and has represented thousands of victims of Paxil injury and death including more than 100 individuals across the country in suicide and suicide attempt cases involving SSRI antidepressants, including Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac. Baum Hedlund has successfully argued preemption in numerous cases, including Witczak, supra, 377 F.Supp.2d 726; Zikis v. Pfizer, Inc., 2005 WL 1126909 (N.D. Ill. 2005); Cartwright v. Pfizer, Inc., 369 F.Supp.2d 876 (E.D. Tex. 2005); Miles v. Pfizer, Inc., Case No. 03-731-C (M.D. La. March 31, 2005) (order without opinion); Szybinski v. Pfizer, Inc., Case No. YC 047439 (Los Angeles Sup. Ct. July 12, 2005) (minute order striking FDA Amicus Briefs and denying preemption); Steinberg v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. Case No. 1-04-CV-029096 (Santa Clara Sup. Ct. January 25, 2007).
Bobby Ray Collins was a fifty-four-year-old detective working for the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. He was happily married to Plaintiff, Mary Collins, and the father of two children, ages 19 and 32. In January of 2002, he has prescribed Paxil for stress-related depression. After ingesting Paxil for less than four weeks and within two weeks of a dosage increase, Bobby Collins committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in the family home. Bobby had no history of suicide attempts or suicidal ideation. He was prescribed Paxil by his gastroenterologist.
According to Baum Hedlund attorney Bijan Esfandiari: “Naturally, this is a significant ruling in the preemption battle and will benefit all of the plaintiffs in Pennsylvania’s Mass Tort Paxil Program. We further hope that Judge Tereshko’s scholarly decision will be relied upon as persuasive authority by courts in other jurisdictions.”