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Decided: March 21, 2002
On October 19, 1994, James W. Bennett (“Jake”) killed his wife by stabbing her more than 200 times. He was indicted, tried and found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity and confined at the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield. A conservatorship for Jake’s estate was established with Jake’s son, Kevin, named as conservator.1 Kevin filed several lawsuits pertaining to Jake’s medical care and course of treatment prior to the murder and Jake’s subsequent confinement at Whitfield. In the lawsuits Kevin alleges that Sudhakar Madakasira, M.D., a Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and its medical center (“UMMC”), and Jeffery A. Ali, M.D., an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at UMMC and a member of University Psychiatric Associates, were negligent in prescribing certain drugs for Jake and that the drugs’ manufacturers, Eli Lilly and Company and Hoffmann-LaRoche, Inc., were negligent in failing to warn adequately of the drugs’ propensity to cause violent behavior. After summary judgment was granted to each of the four defendants, Kevin filed an appeal to this Court. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.
In 1994, Jake was being treated by S.H. Subramony, M.D. On August 14, 1994, Jake informed Dr. Subramony that he suspected that his wife was tampering with his medications. Dr. Subramony felt that it was imperative for Jake to see a psychiatrist that day and called the University of Mississippi Department of Psychiatry for a referral. The Department asked Dr. Ali to see Jake.
Dr. Ali noted that Jake had been prescribed Librium, Doxepin for depression, Librax for stomach problems, and Klonopin for myoclonic jerks, that there had been “an unclear prescribing pattern,” and that Jake had seen many neurologists and internists. Jake was also taking Captopril, Hydrochlorothlorothiazide and Zantac. After examining Jake, Dr. Ali diagnosed major depression with anxiety symptoms. Dr. Ali decided that the best course of treatment would be to continue the Librium, Librax and Klonopin (all manufactured by Hoffmann-LaRoche), and that Prozac (manufactured by Eli Lilly) be added to the medical regimen. Because Dr. Ali had recently moved to Mississippi and had not yet obtained a DEA number which was required for writing certain prescriptions, Dr. Ali consulted with Dr. Madakasira. Dr. Ali explained to Dr. Madakasira that he was hesitant to take Jake off the Librium, Librax and Klonopin all at once because severe withdrawal symptoms might occur. Dr. Madakasira agreed with Dr. Ali’s judgment and wrote prescriptions for the Librium, Librax and Klonopin. Dr. Ali wrote the prescription for the Prozac.