10/9/2008 3:01:52 PM EST
New Mexico Prozac Murder-Suicide Case Takes Another Twist
Posted by Shane Dilworth
Mark Gilbert Rimbert’s case against Prozac maker Eli Lilly & Co. just keeps heating up, but this time the turmoil involves Judge James O. Browning, who was taken off the case today after informing attorneys that his son recently attempted suicide after his psychiatrist prescribed Prozac to him.
In a letter to counsel dated Oct. 8 and docketed Oct. 9, the judge explained that on or about Sept. 29, he and his wife became aware that their son, who sadly has struggled with suicide attempts in the past, was being prescribed Prozac, the drug at the heart of the underlying case. After his son’s suicide attempt, the psychiatrist took him off of Prozac in order to try a different medication. Judge Browning told that attorneys in a May 12 letter that three members of his immediate family have battled depression and have used a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to treat the disease, that more than one of his immediate family members have had suicidal tendencies and that one recently attempted suicide while on Lexapro.
Judge Browning maintained in both letters that he could “continue to be fair and impartial,” but said in the most recent letter that if any of the attorneys was uncomfortable with his role in the case due to the number of unresolved issues and motions, to inform the Court Clerk and the case would be reassigned. Judge Judith C. Herrara was named as Judge Browning’s replacement on Oct. 9.
Rimbert sued Lilly in 2006, alleging that his father’s use of the SSRI caused him to kill his wife and dog before killing himself.
Could the reassignment of Judge Browning have an impact on this case considering his past rulings on the learned intermediary doctrine, the admissibility of the testimony of plaintiff’s expert Dr. Grace Jackson and his most recent order denying summary judgment based on preemption all favored the plaintiff?