March 26, 2014 – – Plaintiffs’ attorneys in a class action involving Forest Laboratories, Inc. and Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (collectively, “Forest”) announced that they have reached a settlement of claims relating to the past marketing of the antidepressants Celexa® and Lexapro® for use by minors in Missouri. A settlement fund ranging from a minimum of $7.65 million to a maximum of $10.35 million will be established by Forest to reimburse class members that purchased Celexa® or Lexapro® for Missouri minors, and to pay class counsel’s attorney fees and expenses, incentive awards for the class representatives who undertook the litigation, and expenses associated with providing notice for and administering the settlement.
Tanya Shippy and Ruth Dunham, the class representatives, filed this suit on behalf of individuals and entities that purchased these drugs for minors under 18 years of age. The suit alleges that Forest violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act by misrepresenting the efficacy of Celexa®and Lexapro®for minors. The case was consolidated with other similar suits in a Multi-District Litigation entitled In re Celexa and Lexapro Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, No. 09–MD–2067 (NMG), currently pending in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts before U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton. Judge Gorton certified the Missouri class on January 10 of this year. Forest denies the class members’ allegations, and the settlement does not constitute an admission of any wrongdoing by Forest.
Claims will be processed for class members that (1) purchased or reimbursed a purchase of Celexa®or Lexapro®on or before December 31, 2013; (2) where the prescription was for a minor under the age of 18 years; and (3) the prescription was for a minor who resided in Missouri, or was paid for in Missouri, or the drug was prescribed in Missouri.
Class members who submit valid claims may recover a full or partial percentage of what they paid or reimbursed, depending on what time period the payments were made. Class members who can verify that their purchases occurred between January 1, 1998 and March 31, 2005 may submit a claim for 100% of what they paid. Class members who can verify that their purchases occurred after March 31, 2005 may submit a claim for 65% of what they paid, except that class members who purchased the drugs after March 19, 2009 for minors aged 12 years and older will be limited to submitting a claim for 20% of what they paid for use by that age group. Class members with otherwise valid claims who cannot verify the exact amount of their payment for the drugs may submit a claim for $50.00. Actual claim payments will vary based on several factors, including the number of claims filed and the total amounts claimed by all class members.
Provisions have been made for class members to opt-out of the class or object to it. A fairness hearing has been scheduled for July 9, 2014, at which time the Court will determine whether the settlement should be granted final approval.
Class representatives Ruth Dunham and Tanya Shippy are represented by Christopher L. Coffin, Stan P. Baudin, and Nicholas R. Rockforte of the law firm Pendley, Baudin & Coffin L.L.P. in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Michael L. Baum and R. Brent Wisner of the law firm Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman P.C. in Los Angeles, California.