Dr. Peter Breggin often acts as a medical expert in criminal, malpractice, product liability and class action suits, and since the 1970s has testified in approximately 100 trials. Most of his cases settle before trial. However, a list of more than 80 trials in which he has testified 1986 are found in the final section of his Resume.
Dr. Breggin’s testimony has involved antidepressants, benzodiazepine tranquilizers, sleeping aids, antipsychotic drugs, stimulants for children diagnosed ADHD, drugs in nursing homes and the elderly, electroshock (ECT), psychosurgery, and involuntary treatment. Cases often include drug-induced tardive dyskinesia, suicide, violence, diabetes, and death.
Here is a small sample of positive and sometimes precedent-setting legal outcomes with Dr. Breggin as the psychiatric expert:
- $11.9 million awarded in Paxil suicide case in federal court with Dr. Breggin testifing (Sept 2016)
- $1.5 million awarded in child tardive dyskinesia case based on Dr. Breggin’s testimony (Feb 2014)
- $700,000 settlement in tardive dyskinesia (TD) case in Mass (May 2014)
- Jury Awards $1.5 million for suicide involving antidepressants based on Dr. Breggin’s testimony (Nov 2012)
- Judge concludes Prozac caused teen to murder based on Dr. Breggin’s testimony (Sept 2011)
- Dr. Breggin medical expert in first ever electroshock (ECT) malpractice trial victory (2005)
- Dr. Breggin medical expert in first ever psychosurgery malpractice trial win ($7.5 million against the Cleveland Clinic) (2002)
Here are some of the details of several lawsuits:
On February 11, 2014 a Chicago jury awarded $1.5 million to an autistic child who developed a severe case of tardive dyskinesia and tardive akathisia while being treated by psychiatrists with Risperdal and then Zyprexa between 2002 and 2007. The drug-induced disorder was diagnosed when he was fifteen years old and by then had become disabling and irreversible. Dr. Breggin was the psychiatric expert for the case and Francis P. Morrissey was the attorney.
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.
M. N. G. (Graham) Dukes, MDPhysician and Attorney
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 (2008).
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.
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 untrue.
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.
Dr. Breggin’s two most recent books, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry (second edition, 2008) and Medication Madness (2008) describe many of these cases in greater detail than is available here, including detailed analyses of the Wesbecker case: Medication Madness is an especially detailed resource. Dr. Breggin has also published numerous peer-reviewed articles on antidepressants and antidepressant-induced violence, suicide and crime, all of which are available on this website.
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 merit.
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.
In the 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 plaintiffs 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 (July 2008).
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.
- The Eli Lilly documents: Part I (PDF)
- The Eli Lilly documents: Part II (PDF)
- The Eli Lilly Documents: Part III (PDF)
- The Eli Lilly documents: Part IV (PDF)
- The Eli Lilly Prozac Suicide and Violence Documents: An Analysis(PDF)
- Letter to British Medical Journal re. Eli Lilly Documents (PDF)
- An Examination of Eli Lilly and Co’s Contention that the BMJ Prozac Documents were Never Missing and Are of No Significance
- Mood-altering verdict: Prozac Case
Paxil® Withdrawal Suit Resolved
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.
- Paxil suicide product liability case “resolved”
- Suppressed Paxil suicide data released: expert calls for drug companies to publish safety and efficacy data
- Paxil Withdrawal Case, California. Attorney Don Farber and Expert P. Breggin.
- Copy of Dr. Breggin’s Paxil Product Liability Report in the Lacuzong Case. (PDF)
- Court filing makes public my previously suppressed analysis of Paxil’s effects (PDF)
- Drug Company Suppressed Data on Paroxetine-Induced Stimulation (PDF)
- How GlaxoSmithKline suppressed data on Paxil-induced akathisia (PDF)
SSRI antidepressant and Xanax criminal cases
Dr. Breggin has evaluated many cases of medication-induced criminal behavior, including bizarre robberies, violence and suicide. The most detailed information about several of these cases can be found in Medication Madness (July, 2008). Other cases are described in Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, Second Edition (2008), The Antidepressant Fact Book (2001) and Talking Back to Prozac (with Ginger Breggin, 1004).
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 described below.
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.”
- Court finds Prozac and Xanax cause suicide and criminal behavior
- Sentences reduced in antidepressant criminal cases
- Judges reduce sentences in latest Paxil and Prozac criminal cases
- Another case of Xanax- and Prozac-induced mania results in reduced sentence
- Virginia court applies involuntary intoxication rule
- Was school shooter Eric Harris (Columbine High School) taking Luvox?
- Prozac-like drug Luvox was being taken by teenager responsible for Littleton Columbine Highschool Shooting
- Dr. Breggin’s publications on SSRI antidepressants, including medication induced-violence, suicide, and crime
- Dr. Breggin’s publications on benzodiazepine-induced abnormal behavior
Eli Lilly settles Zyprexa diabetes cases for $690 million
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 the cases.
Dr. Breggin Medical Expert in First Ever Electroshock Malpractice Victory
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).
- Affidavit Reynolds v. Novartis case (PDF)
- The Case Against Ritalin and Novartis: Initial Affidavit by Dr. Breggin
- The Case Against Ritalin and Novartis: Response to Defendant Novartis by Dr. Breggin
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 followed. 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.
Menninger Clinic case
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 landmark Kaimowitz trial against psychosurgery
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). Legal and political aspects of the antipsychosurgery campaign are also described in a law review article by Peter Breggin, “Psychosurgery for Political Purposes” (1975). Also see the Special Topics sections on Psychosurgery and Psychiatry and Racial Politics.