Dr. Breggin often acts as a medical expert in criminal, malpractice and product liability suits, and since the 1970s has testified in approximately 100 trials. A list of cases since 1986 in which he has been qualified to testify can be found on his resume. However, most of the cases he accepts are settled before going to court.
In late November 2012 a jury in the Supreme Court of the State of New York awarded $1.5 million malpractice verdict to the family of a man who committed suicide while taking psychiatric drugs, including antdepressants (read more). Dr. Breggin was the medical expert for the plaintiffs.
A recent precedent-setting case in Canada was based on Dr. Breggin’s testimony and written report. On September 16, 2011 in Winnipeg, a Provincial judge cited Dr. Breggin’s testimony in concluding that Prozac caused a sixteen-year-old boy to knife a friend to death (read more). Although Dr. Breggin has been an expert in many other criminal, malpractice and product liability cases in which judges have accepted his opinion that antidepressants can cause suicide or violence, this is the first time in North America that any judge has specifically concluded that an antidepressant was the direct cause of a murder.
Recently Dr. Breggin was the medical expert in the first psychosurgery and the first electroshock malpractice suits ever won in court. In 2001-2002, he participated as a medical expert in a California lawsuit whose resolution was associated with a new label warning for Paxil concerning withdrawal effects. Dr. Breggin has been a medical expert in many courtroom victories for individuals injured by medications, including numerous cases of tardive dyskinesia caused by neuroleptic drugs.
In the 1990s, Dr. Breggin was chosen to be the medical and scientific expert for nearly 200 combined Prozac product liability suits against Eli Lilly and Company. This resulted in his testifying in the infamous Wesbecker case in which the manufacturer, Eli Lilly,
fixed the trial (see below). Later Dr. Breggin would become an expert in many other product liability suits involving antidepressants, stimulants, tranquilizers and antipsychotic drugs, nearly all of which were settled. As an expert in these product liability suits, the courts have empowered Dr. Breggin to examine secret company records concerning the development and marketing of their drugs. This unique experience of looking inside otherwise hidden drug company files has provided him a unique source of information and a special understanding of drug company activities that he has used in his legal work and documented in many publications, including Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry
(2008) and Medication Madness
Among his proudest achievements, in the early 1970s Dr. Breggin was the medical expert in the famous Kaimowitz case that stopped lobotomy and psychosurgery in America’s state mental hospitals. More recently he was the psychiatric expert in a psychosurgery case against the Cleveland Clinic that resulted in a huge verdict for the injured woman and caused the clinic to stop doing any further psychosurgery. Dr. Breggin was also the medical expert in the only electroshock malpractice suit to be won by the plaintiffs.
Some of Dr. Breggin’s most successful legal work has involved testimony in tardive dyskinesia malpractice suits involving this usually irreversible abnormal movement disorder commonly caused by antipsychotic or neuroleptic drugs. In all but one of the many TD trials in which he has participated in the United States and Canada, the injured patient has won a favorable verdict. The one exception ended in a hung jury. He has also been involved in tardive dyskinesia cases with multi-million dollar settlements without going to trial in both the United States and Canada.
Dr. Breggin continues with his both his clinical practice and his medical expert work.
Selected Tardive Dyskinesia (TD) Cases
Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a movement disorder caused by neuroleptic
(antipsychotic) drugs, both the older ones such as Thorazine and Haldol
and also the newer ones, such as Zyprexa, Risperdal, Geodon, Abilify
and Seroquel. Although drug advocates often claim that the newer or
atypical antipsychotic drugs cause TD at very low rate, this is simply
Dr. Breggin has been consulted in dozens of cases involving the newer antipsychotic drugs including Ability, Seroquel, Zyprexa and Risperdal. The great majority of Dr. Breggin's cases are settled out of court, sometimes for very large awards that have been justified by the extreme harm done to the victim. He has also been the expert in many cases that have been won in trial, including one in Canada and one in Alaska. Dr. Breggin has a particular concern about TD and the anguish and disability it inflicts on millions of patients around the world.
Due to the escalating use of these drugs in childhood, Dr. Breggin has increasingly focused on the vast numbers of children with TD. Dr. Breggin has already personally evaluated dozens of cases of TD in children caused by Risperdal, as well as many other cases caused by other drugs like Zyprexa, Abilify and Seroquel.
Dr. Breggin has testified in cases in which one parent has attempted to stop the other parent or the state from drugging a child with antipsychotic drugs, sometimes on the basis that the child was already developing a previously undiagnosed case of tardive dyskinesia. In some cases, Dr. Breggin has been authorized by the courts to supervise the child's withdrawal from the drugs long distance with the help of local health professionals.
SSRI antidepressant product liability suits
Dr. Breggin has been an expert for the
plaintiffs in dozens of product liability suits surrounding SSRI
antidepressants as well as stimulants, benzodiazepines and
neuroleptics. Among the SSRI suits, many have been settled to
satisfaction of the plaintiffs and only one, the Wesbecker case, has
gone to court. The drug company Eli Lilly fixed the 1994 Wesbecker
case and the trial judge later reversed the verdict. Following the
Wesbecker case, the drug companies have settled most of Dr. Breggin’s
SSRI antidepressant cases without going to trial.
Wesbecker (Fentress) product liability case against Eli lilly ( makers of Prozac ® )
When Dr. Breggin was selected to be the scientific and medical expert
for the nearly 200 combined Prozac-related cases brought against the manufacturer,
Eli Lilly and Company (makers of Prozac®), he was asked to evaluate for the plaintiffs the
scientific basis for the claim that Prozac was causing violence and suicide, and
also to evaluate the drug company's potential negligence in the development and
marketing of Prozac, including any attempts to hide the risk of Prozac-induced
suicide and violence. He was also asked to evaluate individual cases for their
In 1994 Dr. Breggin testified in the first Prozac case to go to trial, the Wesbecker case.
Joseph Wesbecker was on Prozac in September 1989 when he walked into his
workplace, an Indianapolis printing plant, shot dead
eight colleagues, wounded 12 others, and killed himself. Survivors and
relatives of the dead took Lilly to court in 1994. They claimed that
Wesbecker's violence was due to Prozac.
process of serving as the expert medical witness in this case, Dr.
Breggin evaluated and testified about a number of key documents (all
of which are available below as PDFs). At first, the trial was
apparently won by Eli Lilly -- the jury found that Prozac was not at
fault --but the judge
later determined that the trial had been rigged; Eli Lilly had paid the
to throw the trial by withholding damaging evidence against the
company. Dr. Breggin describes his participation in this dramatic case
in detail in his latest book, Medication Madness
For many years after the fixed trial, plaintiffs, attorneys and even the FDA
remained unaware of many of the documents Breggin had discovered and/or evaluated. Then in
2004, an anonymous individual sent the documents to the British Medical
Journal (BMJ), who published an article about them and also distributed them. When Eli Lilly
forced the BMJ to apologize for suggesting that the documents had
"disappeared" while in Eli Lilly's care, Breggin wrote an unpublished letter to BMJ
explaining how the documents had indeed disappeared (available below). Though criticizing BMJ for saying
that the company had in effect hidden the smoking guns, Eli Lilly never actually contested
the allegations surrounding the documents -- that the drug company had withheld
evidence that Prozac caused suicide.
A California lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) charged the drug company with failing to warn the public about the dangers of Paxil withdrawal. Dr. Breggin was the medical consultant to the case, which was brought on behalf of the citizens of California.
Lacuzong Paxil suicide case against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
The Lacuzong product liability case was brought by the widow of a man who drowned himself and his two young children in a tub three days after starting Paxil. The case was “resolved” to the satisfaction of the plaintiff and the defendant denied all allegations. This section contains Dr. Breggin’s product liability report in the Lacuzong case, which was originally sealed by the court and then made available in a new case in which Dr. Breggin was also an expert, Moffett v. GlaxoSmithKline, the United States District Court for the South District of Mississippi. That case was also resolved to the satisfaction of the plaintiffs with GSK denying all the allegations.
This section contains Dr. Breggin’s original detailed report
in the Lacuzong case describing alleged negligence by GSK in
developing and marketing Paxil. Three of Dr. Breggin’s published
scientific articles excerpt and analyze the data. Overall, the
articles and reports in this section provide a rare insight into the
issues raised and documented by a medical expert in a product
liability suit against an antidepressant manufacturer.
SSRI antidepressant and Xanax criminal cases
In attempting to exonerate individuals who have committed crimes under
the influence of psychiatric medications, most states allow for a plea
of involuntary intoxication on the grounds that the individual did not
knowingly take a drug that could change his behavior for the worse.
Dr. Breggin describes the application of this legal principle and
illustrates it with numerous cases in Medication Madness (July, 2008).
Several times Dr. Breggin’s reports have resulted in reduced sentences
without going to trial. In one of Dr. Breggin’s cases, a Virginia
trial judge found a man not guilty of assaulting a police officer
because of involuntary intoxication with multiple psychiatric drugs.
This was the first such case in Virginia. In a few other hearings and
trials, the judge or jury has reduced the sentence without exonerating
the individual. For example, in Connecticut a judge allowed a plea
bargain for a man accused of robbing banks on the grounds that he was
involuntarily intoxicated on Xanax and Prozac. Both cases are
For a few brief vignettes and an in-depth explanation concerning
medication mechanisms of action in causing abnormal behavior, see Dr.
Breggin’s article, “Intoxication anosognosia: The spellbinding effect
of psychiatric drugs
On June 15, 2005, Eli Lilly & Co., the manufacturer of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa®,
settled an estimated 8,000 lawsuits pending in the United States
concerning its alleged failure to warn about the risk of Zyprexa
causing diabetes. The company agreed to pay $690 million but denied any
wrongdoing. Dr. Breggin was consulted as a medical expert in several of
In June 2005 in Columbia, South Carolina, a jury awarded $635,000 in a
malpractice suit against a psychiatrist who referred a patient for
electroshock treatment. Dr. Breggin was the medical expert in the case.
Reynolds v. Novartis (makers of Ritalin®)
Dr. Breggin acted as the medical consultant for the Ritalin product
liability suit, Reynolds v. Novartis, and wrote an affidavit for the
case (see below).
In addition to this single product liability case,
Dr. Breggin also became the initial medical expert for the first in a
series of highly publicized Ritalin class action suits and his work
provided some of the basis for several other class action suits that
However, after initially consulting on the first
class action suit, Dr. Breggin took no further active role in any of
the Ritalin class action suits, all of which were eventually dismissed
by the courts. Dr. Breggin is unaware of any successful Ritalin
product liability or class action suits.
In mid-December 2001, a jury found the Menninger Clinic negligent in
the death of an individual who was placed in a clinical trial for an
experimental neuroleptic (antipsychotic drug). Psychiatrist Peter R.
Breggin, M.D. was the medical expert for the plaintiffs.
Cleveland Clinic Psychosurgery Case
On June 10, 2002, a jury unanimously found the Cleveland Clinic
negligent in causing permanent, disabling brain damage to a woman by
performing experimental psychosurgery on her without informed consent.
In total they awarded $7.5 million in damages. Dr. Breggin testified
extensively at the trial.
The following is excerpted and slightly revised from a longer
article by Dr. Breggin on the history of his reform work in stopping
the return of lobotomy and psychosurgery in the 1970s and then in
stopping the racist federal violence initiative in the 1980s. These
events are described in greater detail in Peter and Ginger Breggin, The War Against Children of Color (1998)
and political aspects of the antipsychosurgery campaign are also
described in a law review article by Peter Breggin, “Psychosurgery for
” (1975). Also see the Special Topics sections on "Psychosurgery
" and "Racism and Social Control