A jury awarded a $2.5 million verdict in the first Paxil birth defects case to go to trial. GlaxoSmithKline is liable for the verdict, after the jury found that it was negligent. The verdict is for compensatory damages. No punitive damages were awarded because the jury did not find that Glaxo’s conduct was outrageous. Jamie Sheller of Sheller, P.C. was one of the lawyers representing plaintiff Michelle David who alleged that Paxil caused the life-threatening heart defects suffered by her son Lyam Kilker. Paxil is an antidepressant, and Ms. David took it while she was pregnant. From 1992 through 2005, Paxil was classified as a drug with no known link to increased birth defects. In September 2005, the FDA began warning of a possible association between Paxil and birth defects. Four months later the Paxil warnings were strengthened. Meanwhile, Lyam Kilker was born in October 2005. At two months old, he was diagnosed with heart defects, and he underwent surgery to repair two holes in his heart, spending five months in a Philadelphia hospital. He will also need at least one more heart surgery as he grows. According to Jamie Sheller, Glaxo could have known about the risks of birth defects much sooner.
The Lyam Kilker case was one of over 600 similar cases against Glaxo. Another case is scheduled for trial in Philadelphia in November.