Some 30,000 lawsuits have been filed against Eli Lilly by persons suffering from psychiatric problems who were treated with the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa. Those persons principally allege in their complaints that Zyprexa caused side effects of hyperglycemia and diabetes. Litigation involving this drug was initiated in 2003 with a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) being formed in 2004. Many of the cases have been settled.
While most of the Plaintiffs elected to resolve their individual claims, there are still issues to be resolved in other cases that remain in court. A series of summary judgment motions filed by Lilly against individual Zyprexa-user actions are now pending. Expert testimony is critically important in these cases. The MDL judge has excluded some proposed expert testimony submitted by Plaintiffs’ lawyers and has approved other expert testimony. But, on May 29, 2009, the MDL Court issued an order in one individual’s case granting summary judgment.
The Plaintiff in that case was Lewis Ortenzio, a 56-year-old resident of Harrison County, West Virginia, who was formerly a medical doctor licensed to practice in the state of West Virginia. The court made several significant findings in the Ortenzio case, including the following:
• A finding that there was no evidence that Dr. Ortenzio read the warning label. Thus there was no evidence from which a jury could find that a different warning by Lilly would have prevented him from taking Zyprexa;
• There was also no evidence that his doctor even knew Dr. Ortenzio was taking Zyprexa during the relevant time periods; and
• There was no evidence presented of a causal connection between Zyprexa and Dr. Ortenzio’s pancreatitis, which made the case impossible to prove.
I don’t believe that the ruling will affect many – if any – of the other pending cases. Each case should stand on its own from a factual perspective. The MDL Court appears ready to rule on additional Zyprexa cases and has issued orders that some of the cases should be ready for trial very soon. If you need more information on Zyprexa, contact Frank Woodson in our firm at 800-898-2034 or by email at Frank.Woodson@beasleyallen.com.
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