Wendy beats Goliath

So, the trial of our friend Wendy ended earlier today – and guess what, she won. The truth finally prevailed over the malevolent entity that is GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). During the trial we heard how this drug company hid suicide events and misrepresented data that showed Paxil/Seroxat could induce suicide in adults as well as in children. GSK argued that rather than Paxil causing Wendy’s husband to die, it was the work related stress he was under. The jury saw through GSK’s defence and their so-called expert witnesses (one who was paid $165,000 for his testimony), and awarded Wendy $3 million. This vindication for the very charismatic Stewart, makes it a very good day.  Be careful when taking an SSRI antidepressant; this case showed how evidence-based-medicine may not be as scientific as we would all like to believe. Studies done by drug companies with vested interests in the outcomes, now who thought that was a good idea? News article courtesy of Law 360 below..

 

BREAKING: GSK Hit With $3M Verdict For Reed Smith Atty’s Suicide
By Jessica Corso

Law360, Chicago (April 20, 2017, 4:20 PM EDT) — An Illinois federal jury on Thursday found GlaxoSmithKline liable for the death of Reed Smith LLP partner Stewart Dolin and ordered the pharmaceutical giant to pay $3 million to the attorney’s widow, reaching the conclusion that a generic version of GSK’s Paxil caused Dolin to take his own life.

A nine-person jury agreed with Wendy Dolin that her husband had committed suicide in 2010 under the influence of generic paroxetine, an antidepressant sold as brand-named Paxil. (AP)
Following five weeks of trial testimony, the nine-person jury agreed with Wendy Dolin that her husband had committed suicide in 2010 under the influence of generic paroxetine, an antidepressant sold as brand-named Paxil. The jury awarded Dolin $3 million for the loss of income and the emotional distress she’s suffered since her husband ended his life by jumping in front of a Chicago train in the middle of a summer workday.

The verdict is a vindication of Dolin’s belief, expressed in her 2012 lawsuit, that her husband would still be alive if it weren’t for the paroxetine prescription he began taking days before his death.

Dolin said her husband was restless and agitated in the days leading up to his suicide, symptoms of a listed Paxil side effect known as akathisia. GSK denied any link between akathisia and suicide, but the widow said that the side effect sometimes causes people to act out violently and impulsively.

What’s more, the lawsuit claimed that GSK knew about the increased risk of suicide for adults taking paroxetine, particularly in the early days of treatment. Dolin said that the company had hidden data proving the link from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for decades. She testified during the trial that while her husband was sometimes anxious, he had developed coping mechanisms to deal with that anxiety and was seeing a therapist at the time of his death.

GSK sought to pin the blame for Stewart Dolin’s death on his yearslong battle with anxiety, particularly as it revolved around his work as co-chair of Reed Smith’s corporate and securities practice.

Therapy records shown to jurors demonstrated that Dolin had expressed concerns with a therapist in 2007 about Reed Smith scooping up his then-firm Chicago-based Sachnoff & Weaver Ltd. GSK said that Sachnoff was a much smaller, single-office firm and that Dolin had felt unprepared to tackle BigLaw life.

“He didn’t feel qualified to do some of the work,” his then-therapist Sydney Reed said in a video deposition shown to the jury. “He had no experience with international law. He had no experience with giant corporations.”

Though the fears eventually dissipated, a GSK expert who examined the therapy records appeared on the stand during the last days of trial to say that Dolin’s insecurities flared up again in the last months before his death.

The economic downturn had “played havoc” on the corporate and securities practice group, which didn’t meet revenue goals for 2009, according to Dolin’s own review of the year. Because of that, GSK claimed, Reed Smith appointed a younger attorney to co-lead the group with Dolin, 57, who was previously the practice group’s sole leader.

Dolin also received anonymous negative comments on his year-end review and was struggling with a client unhappy with a lawsuit that another Reed Smith partner had filed, University of Massachusetts psychiatry professor Anthony Rothschild told the court.

“In some ways, his nightmare of being inadequate was coming true,” Rothschild said.

But the managing partner at Reed Smith’s Chicago office testified that it wasn’t work that drove Dolin to take his own life.

“He had a challenging week, but we sorted it through,” Mike LoVallo, who said he had known Dolin for decades and considered him a close friend, told the jury.

After he died, “I searched for anything else in his office,” LoVallo said. “I don’t think there was anything work-related that could have caused this.”

Wendy Dolin is represented by R. Brent Wisner, Michael L. Baum, Bijan Esfandiari and Frances M. Phares of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman PC and David Rapoport and Matthew Sims of Rapoport Law Offices PC.

GSK is represented by Andrew T. Bayman, Todd P. Davis, Ursula Henninger and Heather M. Howard of King & Spalding LLP and Alan S. Gilbert and Anders C. Wick of Dentons.

The case is Dolin v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. et al., case number 1:12-cv-06403, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

–Editing by Christine Chun.

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