Lilly comes to terms with family of Chicago man who jumped from office tower in 1991 — (Indianapolis Star)

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The Indianapolis Star, (IN) 

October 15, 2002
Author: JEFF SWIATEK, JEF
F.SWIATEK@INDYSTAR.COM

Eli Lilly and Co. has resolved one of its longest-running Prozac – suicide lawsuits, a case involving a businessman who leaped off a Chicago office building.

The nine-year-old lawsuit, set for trial Oct. 21, was resolved last week, plaintiff’s attorney Nancy Zettler said Monday.

Attorneys in Prozac cases typically sign secrecy agreements not to divulge details of resolved cases, or even to refer to them as settled, and this one is no exception, Zettler said.

“If there was a resolution, the resolution was last Wednesday,” the Chicago attorney said of the case. The plaintiffs were the wife and children of Charles Berman, who jumped to his death off a Chicago office tower in 1991. The lawsuit said he had been taking Lilly’s antidepressant Prozac.

Zettler, who was assisting another Chicago attorney, Henry Gruss, in the case, said Lilly recently lost a pretrial motion to keep British psychiatrist Dr. David Healy from testifying for the plaintiffs as an expert witness.  Healy is a proponent of the belief that Prozac and similar antidepressants can cause suicidal feelings or violence in some users.

The Berman case dates to the early years of Prozac litigation in the early 1990s, when Lilly faced hundreds of such lawsuits over its former best-selling drug. The case originally was filed by Chicago attorney Leonard Ring, who before his death was slated to try in Kentucky the first Prozac case to come to trial. After Ring’s death, Zettler, who worked for Ring at the time, stepped in to try the Louisville case with Texas trial lawyer Paul Smith.

Lilly in 1994 secretly settled the Louisville case during trial and also won a jury verdict in its favor. Only one other Prozac product liability case has come to trial, in 1999 in Hawaii. The jury in that case also absolved Lilly of blame.

Zettler said she is not handling any other Prozac cases. Fewer than a dozen are pending against the Indianapolis drugmaker, which saw its protective patent on Prozac expire last year.

Call Jeff Swiatek at 1-317-444-6483.

Record Number: ind59250960
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