Paxil Birth Defect Action Time-Barred, Fla. Federal Judge Rules
MIAMI — A Paxil birth defect action is time-barred under Florida law because the plaintiffs knew of a possible connection between their injuries and the drug more than four years ago, a federal magistrate judge has ruled.
On Aug. 12, Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Miami found the mother had notice of the possible invasion of her legal rights by Dec. 20, 1997, when her doctor noted in her medical records that her son’s condition was “apparently due” to Paxil.
On January 27, 2012, Iolany Ferez, filed, on behalf of her minor son, Andrew Plascencia,(AP) a product liability action against GSK in Pennsylvania state court. Ferez alleged that Paxil caused A.P. to be born with Tricuspid Atresia, Right Ventricular Hypertrophy, and a heart murmur.
Ferez gave birth to A.P. in 1996. Doctors noted at birth that A.P. had a heart murmur, and diagnosed him with a heart defect the next day. A.P.’s heart defect was classified as a tricuspid atresia type II‐B, a condition that has required two corrective procedures and regular cardiology visits throughout his life.
According to court documents, Ferez suspected Paxil caused A.P.’s heart defect almost immediately because she had taken it throughout the first six weeks of her pregnancy with A.P.She had not taken anything during her first two pregnancies and both children were born without defects.
Ferez asked A.P.’s cardiologist and her gynecologist whether Paxil may have caused A.P.’s heart condition. Both responded that they did not know.
On December 20, 1997, Dr. Marcio Ferez, Ferez’s father, employer, and primary care physician, noted in Ferez’s medical records that A.P.’s heart defect was “apparently due to” Paxil. In September 2005, GSK mailed a letter to Dr. Ferez and other healthcare professionals advising them of a recent study that showed Paxil was associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations, most commonly cardiovascular. A second letter was sent in December 2005, advising of an additional study showing an increased risk for cardiovascular malformations in infants born to women who had first trimester Paxil exposure.
The GSK Defence
GSK argued that the statute of limitations bars the claim of Ferez because she had actual and constructive knowledge that A.P.’s heart defect may have been caused by Paxil.
Although the Court was sympathetic to A.P.’s condition and injuries and recognizes that Paxil may well be responsible for his birth defect, “liability cannot rest on sympathy alone.”
GSK’s summary judgment motion was granted. (granting summary judgment to defendant in products liability case based on statute of limitations).
Iolany Ferez took Paxil during her pregnancy. Her son was born some time later and it was found that he had a number of birth defects. Ferez put two and two together and came to the conclusion that Paxil may have caused these defects because she had given birth on two previous occasions to healthy babies where, during these pregnancies, she was not taking Paxil.
GSK have claimed that because Ferez made an assumption that it could have been their product that caused her son's defects and didn't file a lawsuit against them straight away, she is out of time to make any such claim for compensation.
Can you imagine if victims of Jimmy Saville, or any other pedophile for that matter, were told that they, or the prosecuting team, couldn't bring any charges against him because they never came forward at the time of the alleged assault?
The Judge ruled in favour of Glaxo, "Although the Court is sympathetic to A.P.’s condition and injuries and recognizes that Paxil may well be responsible for his birth defect, liability cannot rest on sympathy alone."
So, an acknowledgement by the man with the gavel that Paxil may well be responsible for this particular child being born with a birth defect...but, um, tough shit, his mom should have joined the dots and filed earlier.
What kind of system is this?
Sadly, Judges are bound by statute instead of common sense. Knowing the statute of limitations inside out is a must for any attorney representing the pharmaceutical industry. They cannot defend the drug because physical evidence shows the harm the drug causes - instead they rely on a statute that was, in my opinion, designed to help the mighty to continue being mighty and for the lowly to know their place.
In the meantime, the son of Ferez, who has Tricuspid Atresia, Right Ventricular Hypertrophy, and a heart murmur, has to go through a life of uncertainty. His mom has to pick up all the medical bills which can run into many thousands of dollars.
GSK have once again shown that their corporate motto that GSK is a "global healthcare company that is committed to helping people to do more, feel better and live longer", is misleading and should be altered accordingly.
How have they helped the son of Iolany Ferez to do more?
How have they helped the son of Iolany Ferez to feel better?
How have they helped the son of Iolany Ferez to live longer?
This isn't the first time GSK have used a statute of limitations defence. They did so in the case of Joanne Thomas.
Thomas had to abort her fetus due to a number of defects caused by Paxil.
GSK argued she was out of time filing a lawsuit, the Judge agreed.
Research, carried out by myself and Thomas, showed that she wasn't out of time and that GSK knew that she wasn't. Attorney's involved in the case drew up a settlement between Thomas and GSK. There was no media coverage, apart from my own, about Glaxo knowing that Thomas had contacted them via email many years before she filed suit.
It's unknown if Thomas agreed to settle. Good luck to her if she did.
Ryan, Glaxo's Non-Viable Fetus - Part I