BULFIN v. ELI LILLY & CO. — (Leagle.com)

SSRI Ed note: Man on Prozac and Xanax shoots three people, killing one, claims involuntary intoxication, makes Alford plea, sues everyone, suits dismissed.

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614 N.E.2d 403 (1993)

244 Ill. App.3d 785

James Edward BULFIN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ELI LILLY & COMPANY, The Upjohn Company, Dr. A. Pena, and Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Defendants-Appellees.

Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division.

April 8, 1993.

William E. Hourigan, Bloomington, of counsel, for plaintiff-appellant.

Coffield Ungaretti & Harris, Chicago (Barbara J. Anderson and J. Timothy Eaton, of counsel), Horvath Lieber & Quilici, Chicago (Howard L. Lieber and Mary M. McCarthy, of counsel), Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, Chicago, Richard C. Bartelt, Richard C. Palmer and Jeanne Walker, Chicago, of counsel, McCarter and English, Newark, NJ (John L. McGoldrick, John Garde and Rosalie Burrows, of counsel), for defendants-appellees.

Justice HOFFMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, James Edward Bulfin, appeals from an order dismissing his complaint under section 2-619(a)(4) of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill.Rev.Stat.1991, ch. 110, par. 2-619(a)(4).) In dismissing the instant action, the trial court found that plaintiff is collaterally estopped from seeking damages against defendants, Eli Lilly & Company (Eli Lilly), Upjohn Company (Upjohn), Dr. A. Pena (Pena), and Blue Cross & Blue Shield (Blue Cross). For the following reasons, we affirm.

On October 15, 1988, in Scottsdale, Arizona, plaintiff, James Edward Bulfin, shot and killed Harold Arthur MacNevins, and shot and injured Faith Simmons and Bernard Simmons. Plaintiff had travelled from Illinois to Arizona bringing with him the pistol that he used on October 15, 1988.

Plaintiff was indicted in Arizona for one count of murder in the second degree and two counts of attempted murder in the first degree. During the pretrial stages of the criminal proceedings in Arizona, plaintiff indicated that he intended to raise the defenses of insanity, diminished mental capacity, and involuntary intoxication. Plaintiff subsequently negotiated a plea agreement, and on August 9, 1989, pled guilty to one count of manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault. The guilty plea was an “Alford Plea” (see North Carolina v. Alford (1970), 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162), whereby plaintiff consented to the entry of judgment without a trial, declined to provide the trial court with any factual basis for the guilty plea, but maintained his innocence.

When plaintiff pled guilty, the Arizona trial court determined that he had read and fully understood the terms of his plea agreement; it then received the factual foundation for the guilty plea, and determined that the plaintiff had no disagreement with the essential facts as related by the prosecutor. The court deferred any finding on the plea until September 22, 1989. When the parties reconvened on September 22, 1989, the court accepted plaintiff’s plea of guilty to the reduced charges and sentenced him to seven and one-half years’ imprisonment. Plaintiff did not file a direct appeal from his conviction and did not seek post-conviction relief.

On September 6, 1990, plaintiff filed the instant action. In his second-amended complaint, plaintiff sought recovery against Upjohn, the manufacturer of the drug Xanex; Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of the drug Prozac; Pena, the Illinois physician who prescribed Xanex and Prozac for him; and Blue Cross, the Illinois health maintenance organization which required plaintiff to use the services of Pena. Plaintiff charged that Upjohn and Eli Lilly had negligently, willfully and wantonly, and fraudulently marketed Xanex and Prozac, respectively, without regard for the known adverse side effects of the drugs. Plaintiff alleged that Pena was aware of the adverse side effects of Xanex and Prozac and was negligent in prescribing them and failing to  advise plaintiff of the risks related to the drugs. Finally, plaintiff charged Blue Cross with negligently requiring that he use the services of Pena, who according to plaintiff, was not skilled and knowledgeable in the combined effects of Xanex and Prozac. Plaintiff further alleged that on October 15, 1988, as a consequence of the wrongful acts or omissions of defendants, he suffered involuntary drug-induced intoxication and then, through no fault of his own, shot and killed Mr. MacNevins and shot and wounded Mr. and Mrs. Simmons. The proximate result of these occurrences was his incarceration in the Arizona penitentiary.

In response to plaintiff’s second-amended complaint, Upjohn filed a motion for involuntary dismissal pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2-619. Upjohn maintained that plaintiff was collaterally estopped from bringing his action because he had pled guilty in the Arizona criminal proceeding. All of the defendants, except Walgreen Company, joined Upjohn in the motion. Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Walgreen Company from the action and that dismissal is not pertinent to this appeal.

On September 3, 1991, the trial court granted defendants’ motions and dismissed plaintiff’s action. On January 27, 1992, plaintiff’s motion to reconsider was denied, and the instant appeal followed.


Plaintiff raises four issues on appeal: first, the trial court erred in applying Arizona law to determine the collateral estoppel effect of plaintiff’s conviction; second, assuming, arguendo, that Arizona law on collateral estoppel should be applied, the trial court incorrectly interpreted that law; third, Illinois law precludes the application of the doctrine of collateral estoppel in this case; and fourth, applying collateral estoppel to this case violates the public policy of Illinois. We find no merit in any of these contentions…

For the foregoing reasons, we find that the trial court properly dismissed plaintiff’s action.

Judgment affirmed.

JOHNSON and CAHILL, JJ., concur.