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January 26, 2007

Federal court refuses class certification in paxil case

In Blain v. Smithkline Beechan Corp., 2007 WL 178564, (E.D.Pa.) the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Thursday declined to certify as a national class the plaintiffs lawsuit against the manufacturer of the andipressant drug Paxil.  The plaintiffs in the case sought to reprsent "all persons whose children under age eighteen committed or attempted to commit suicide while using the drug."  The essence of their claim is that the defendat had specifi knowledge of Paxil's association with the incresed risk of sucidality in pediatric patients but failed to warn physicians, the medical community, and the public of that danger.  The plaintiffs sought a class trial on whether Paxil could cause suicidality in pediatric patients, whether the defendant knew or should have know that it could, and whether the defendant failed to provide adequate warnings of the danger. The court held that a class action is not an appropriate vehicle for litigation of the issues in the case:
"A class action is not an appropriate vehicle for litigating the issues in this case. The plaintiffs fail to meet the typicality and adequacy prongs of Rule 23(a). Typicality is wanting because the individual circumstances of the named plaintiffs are markedly different from those of the putative class members and GSK can raise unique defenses to almost each class member's claim. These same differences result in interests so divergent that the named plaintiffs are inadequate representatives of the absent class members. Finally, the predominance and superiority requirements of Rule 23(b)(3) are lacking--predominance because the proposed common issues are overwhelmed by the differences among the factual and legal issues affecting individual causation, damages and defenses; and, superiority because the proposed class would be unmanageable in light of the choice-of-law conflicts that are resolved in favor of each individual's home state. In essence, the plaintiffs have failed to define a class capable of ascertaining membership without individualized fact-finding."

MKS

January 26, 2007 | Permalink

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