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 A Review of Dr. Breggin’s Medical Expert Experiences

Dr. Peter Breggin often acts as a psychiatric and medical expert or as a consultant in criminal, malpractice, product liability and class action suits. This page presents a list of over 70 of his more interesting and successful trials and settlements.

In greatly updating this legal page in early December 2017, Dr. Breggin was able to retrieve information about most of his trial successes since 1986, but not before that time.  Unfortunately, information about many dozens of cases successfully settled before going to trial has not been easy to locate, and only a few are listed. Many of Dr. Breggin’s most interesting cases are described in detail in his book, Medication Madness: the Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime.

Based on his experience over 50 years, bolstered by his many scientific books and articles, Dr. Breggin is among the most experienced psychiatric experts in the world. He also maintains a private practice in Ithaca, New York.

Dr. Breggin has been a consultant or testified in many high profile cases, such as the Columbine High School and Aurora Theater mass murders and the recent Michelle Carter case—the girl who alleged “texted her boyfriend to death.” He has also been a consultant to the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) on adverse drug effects on pilots.

Based in part on his expertise adverse drug effects, he has not only been qualified innumerable times to testify in malpractice cases against psychiatrists, but also against doctors in many other specialties such as general practice, pediatrics, internal medicine, neurology and neurosurgery, as well as non-physician healthcare providers.

Dr. Breggin’s testimony has involved every class of psychiatric drug, including antidepressants, benzodiazepine tranquilizers, sleeping aids, antipsychotic drugs, stimulants for children diagnosed ADHD. Many cases involve polydrug administration, often involving non-psychiatric drugs as well.

He has testified or consulted on many other cases involving non-psychiatric drugs that have caused brain damage, death and other injuries including psychiatric or neurological crises caused by the following: antibiotics such as Bactrim and Accutane; antiviral agents; cardiovascular medications; Tegretol, opioids and other drugs used to treat pain; and neuroleptics used for non-psychiatric purposes such as Compazine and Phenergan for nausea and vertigo. He has testified or consulted about medication-induced diabetes, cardiovascular problems, fetal developmental abnormalities, and infant and child exposure to Reglan (metoclopramide).

Cases often include drug-induced tardive dyskinesia, neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), serotonin syndrome, suicide, violence, and death from drugs.

He has testified concerning standards for prescribing in private practice, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and the Veterans Administration (VA).

He has testified on behalf of parents when mental facilities, state agencies and courts have tried to force them to give psychiatric drugs to their children or elderly parents.

Dr. Breggin has testified in cases involving electroshock (ECT) and psychosurgery, and was the expert in the first ECT and first psychosurgery malpractice cases won in trial

 

SELECTED LEGAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS
AS A MEDICAL EXPERT

The following list of Dr. Peter Breggin’s experiences in legal cases does not include the very large number of those that have settled on the condition of secrecy. For example, one of his malpractice cases in which he was the sole medical expert resulted in the largest settlement of its kind ever, but required him to remain silent about it. 

In digital form, each legal case in the following list is linked to additional information. The digital form can be retrieved at breggin.com/resume.

 2018: State of Ohio v. Luebrecht. January 4, 2018.  In the court of common pleas of Putnam County, Ohio. Case No.  2005CR0047.  A man on increasing doses of Wellbutrin and Effexor, as well as on Ativan and Zyprexa, drowned his 14-month old son in a bathtub.  This was an appeal for a new trial based on new scientific evidence, asking the court “to set aside its judgment of conviction, and permit Defendant to withdraw his previously tendered plea of guilty to correct a manifest injustice.”

 2018: Durand v. Sarver Family Practice.   May 29, 2018.  Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. No. 2014-10067.  Daubert-like hearing testimony.  A 20-year old man committed suicide after starting Zoloft.

 2018: Durand v. Sarver Family Practice.   June 19, 2018.  Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. No.:2014-10067.  Trial testimony.  A 20-year old man committed suicide after starting Zoloft.

 2018: DA Drops 1st Degree Murder Charge Moments before Dr. Breggin’s Depo.

 2017: Michelle Carter, who was seventeen at the time, was tried for allegedly “killing her boyfriend with words” by encouraging him to re-enter his truck filled with carbon monoxide. The trial resulted in a conviction of manslaughter, followed by a very light sentence. After testifying, and when the trial was over, Dr. Breggin wrote a blog series about the injustice of the conviction and true, tragic story of two young people texting each other in isolation while struggling with disturbed emotions and the negative effects of antidepressant drugs.

2017: Mazella Case Retrial Settled after Frye Victory.

2017: Judge reduces sentence in armed robbery under influence of Prozac intoxication and withdrawal from opioids.

2016: $11.9 million award in Paxil suicide.  

 2016: Attempted murder charges dropped due to meds.

2014: $1.5 million Zyprexa & Risperdal child TD trial.

2014: $700,000 settled Risperdal Tardive Dyskinesia.

2014: $1.5 million in Mazella case for Paxil suicide.

2014: Suicide malpractice Prozac and Xanax suicide settled for $250,000 during my testimony. 

2014: Trial of a man on Paxil who shot and wounded his wife and friend results with hung jury on one count of attempted murder and not guilty on the second count. Instead of aggravated assault charges, found Guilty But Mentally Ill.

2012: Dr. Breggin was qualified in Canada as a psychiatrist to testify against psychiatrists in a malpractice suit involving head injury and the administration of psychiatric drugs in outpatient and inpatient practice, including the antidepressants Prozac and Effexor, resulting in a serotonin syndrome. For reasons beyond the legal arena, the case never went forward.

2012: A nursing home recognized an elderly woman’s right to reject psychiatric medication and when she died of unrelated causes, the family sued for multimillions. After Dr. Breggin’s deposition for the defense about how the patient lived longer as a result of being free of psychiatric medications, the nursing home was able to settle on very good terms. No other information can be made available on this case.

2011: Judge says Prozac caused teen murder 2011.

2009: Judge awards $696,674 against Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group in binding arbitration for death related to Tegretol for pain. 

2009: Virginia Court of Appeals affirms jury verdict in the Salters ECT case on grounds that Dr. Breggin is “an expert in ECT” and cites his testimony on the standard of care and damages in affirming the jury verdict. 

2008: First Virginia Involuntary Intoxication Trial Victory

2007: Appeals Court Confirms $635,000 Trial Win by citing Dr. Peter Breggin’s testimony and credentials as an expert in ECT. 

2006: in a New Jersey malpractice case focused on Prozac and Xanax, a businessman settled for $250,000 when it was offered during Dr. Breggin’s testimony.

 2005: Another Paxil/GSK product liability case settled.  This is the case that made public Dr. Breggin’s previously sealed 2002 Lacuzong Report (see below).

 2005: Eli Lilly settles Zyprexa/diabetes cases for $690 Million.  The company agreed to pay $690 million but denied any wrongdoing.

2005: $635,000 in first-ever electroshock (ECT) malpractice trial victory.

2005: $1.6 million TD verdict in Virginia.

2005: In New Mexico , Dr. Breggin testified by telephone in a hearing about the over-medication of a child. Per Dr. Breggin’s testimony, the judge ordered the medication stopped and authorized Dr. Breggin’s further evaluation.

2004: In New York State, Dr. Breggin testified concerning the incompetency of an elderly woman with dementia, which the judge then confirmed. She required a determination of incompetency in order to be protected from an abusive caretaker.

2004: in a criminal case in Pennsylvania, Dr. Breggin testified by video deposition concerning the role of Paxil and other SSRIs in causing violent and suicidal behavior. The jury hung on one count of attempted murder and found him not guilty on the second count. He was found Guilty But Mentally Ill on aggravated assault charges.

2004: Trial of man who shot and wounded his wife and a friend resulted in hung jury on one count of attempted murder and not guilty on the second count. Guilty but mentally ill on aggravated assault charges.

2004: Jury awarded $200,000 to a mentally retarded woman was treated with neuroleptics from age 18-22 and developed tardive dyskinesia.

2003: Three Alabama police officers were wounded (none seriously) in a shoot-out with a man taking Paxil. Dr. Breggin testified that the accused developed akathisia and a brief paranoid psychosis before the shoot out and that the psychosis resulted from a mixture of Paxil withdrawal and toxicity. In trial immediately before my testimony, the state initiated and offered a remarkable plea bargain: three first-degree attempted murder charges were reduced to assault, plus he received a reduced sentence.

2003: in the State of Washington, a man developed tardive dyskinesia after being treated older and newer antipsychotic drugs. The trial ended with a hung jury. This is Dr. Breggin’s only failure to be on the winning side in many trials of adult tardive dyskinesia cases.

2003: A respected man in Pennsylvania drove his automobile into an unsuspecting policeman to knock him down to obtain his gun to commit suicide. Based on Dr. Breggin’s report concerning Paxil, the injured police officer and the state’s attorney joined in requesting his release after approximately one year in jail and a reduction in his overall sentence to 1-2 years, with 8 years probation.

2003: A child prescribed multiple psychiatric medications, including antipsychotics from an early age, suffered developmental delays and tardive dyskinesia. Dr. Breggin testified that the TD he diagnosed years earlier was largely resolved by trial. One of the defendants settled prior to trial and the other two prevailed in trial.

2002: $7.5 million in first-ever psychosurgery malpractice trial victory ($7.5 million against Cleveland Clinic).

 2002: Massive Lacuzong Paxil product liability suit settled in January against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Lacuzong drowned himself and his two small children in a bathtub immediately after starting Paxil and developing akathisia (a dangerous psychomotor agitation).  The heart of the successful case was Dr. Breggin’s lengthy expert opinion and report based on his three-day onsite investigation of GSK’s secret files.  Unfortunately, the settlement sealed Dr. Breggin’s large Lacuzong report.  Then in 2006, in another Paxil/GSK productive liability suit involving Dr. Breggin, a new judge opened Dr. Breggin’s report to the public.   In quick succession, Dr. Breggin published three detailed scientific reports on Paxil-induced violence, suicide and akathisia, as well as the negligence and fraud perpetrated by GSK in developing and marketing  Paxil. Here are the first, second, and third published reports. Here is Dr. Breggin’s original Lacuzong report  that led to the settlement with GSK in 2002 and to later  settlements by the company.

 2002: Paxil Suicide Withdrawal Product Case against GSK Resolved

 2002: Court Finds Prozac and Xanax Cause Criminal Conduct

2002: In a Massachusetts case, a Medical Tribunal found in favor of the Plaintiff, stating that Dr. Breggin had raised sufficient concern about the long-term administration of the benzodiazepine “to raise a legitimate question of liability appropriate for judicial inquiry.”

 2001: Judges Reduce Sentences in Latest Paxil and Prozac Criminal Cases

 2001: Patient Dies in Clinical Drug Trial: Jury Finds Menninger Clinic Negligent.

2001: Judge reduces sentence in violent assault related to effects of Prozac, Remeron, and BuSpar. 

2001: TD case Settled in Trial after Dr. Breggin’s Testimony.

2001: Judge agrees that Prozac and Xanax caused Bizarre Bank Robberies.

2001: In Virginia in a criminal violence case , Dr. Breggin sent a letter to a judge for a sentencing hearing reaffirming his trial concerning the harmful effects of Prozac, Remeron, and BuSpar. The judge gave a reduced sentence, and in his written opinion cited Dr. Breggin’s testimony.

2001: In South Carolina a sentencing hearing for a 27 year old man with no prior history of violence who pleaded guilty to rape charges, Dr. Breggin presented evidence that Paxil can cause mania with disinhibition and aggressive sexuality. The judge concluded that Paxil contributed to the crime Instead of sentencing him to life without parole, he gave him a more limited 21-year sentence.

2001: A woman was treated antipsychotic drugs developed severe tardive dyskinesia and tardive dystonia. The case was settled satisfactorily in favor of the plaintiff before it went to the jury.

2001: After the 1998 case of the man who shot the policeman, Dr. Breggin testified on the man’s behalf in a malpractice suit against the hospital and the doctor who had inflicted outpatient electroshock treatment upon him while he was taking Prozac, Ritalin, the benzodiazepine Klonopin, BuSpar, and Depakote. After the completion of most of Dr. Breggin’s testimony, the judge called a brief recess, and defendant hospital settled the case without cross-examining him. The doctor had settled earlier in the trial.