Paxil Birth Defect Suit Booted to Minnesota

     (CN) – A mother who claims that the antidepressant Paxil gave her unborn daughter a critical neural tube defect warranting major surgery must fight GlaxoSmithKline in Minnesota, a federal judge ruled.
     Minnesota residents Julie Guddeck and her minor daughter Kaylea sued SmithKline Beecham Corp. dba GlaxoSmithKline LLC (GSK) in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County on Sept. 30, 2011.
     They claimed that because Julie took Glaxo’s antidepressant drug Paxil during her pregnancy, her daughter was born with a critical neural tube defect resulting in major surgery and continuous treatment.
     The Guddecks assert claims for negligence, breach of warranty, and strict liability.
     After the suit was removed to federal court and consolidated with similar Paxil actions against the Philadelphia-based company, many plaintiffs moved to remand.
     U.S. District Judge Timothy Savage granted the motions on Dec. 14, 2011, on the ground that Glaxo was a Pennsylvania citizen and that removal by an in-state defendant was improper.
     The 3rd Circuit later found, however, that Glaxo was a Delaware citizen and that removal was proper. The company then removed the Guddecks’ suit again to federal court.
     U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III refused to let the family remand the action to state court on July 24.
     Glaxo then moved to transfer the case to the District of Minnesota, and Bartle granted the motion Wednesday, finding that the public and private factors overwhelmingly weigh in favor of transfer.
     “Here, the plaintiffs’ forum preference will not be given much weight as they are residents of Minnesota and the suit is based on GSK’s failure to warn leading to Ms. Guddeck’s harmful ingestion of Paxil, all of which took place in Minnesota,” the ruling states. “Ms. Guddeck was prescribed the drug there, ingested the drug there, became pregnant there and gave birth there. She also received prenatal treatment in Minnesota. Since birth, Kaylea Guddeck has been treated and continues to be treated for her medical problems in Minnesota.
     “The transfer to the District of Minnesota is more convenient for the parties as indicated by their physical and financial conditions,” Bartle added. “The plaintiffs are physically present in Minnesota, and it will clearly be less expensive for them to have this action tried near their home. The defendant, as a large corporation, does not bear a meaningfully heavier financial burden in one district versus another. In any event, defendant seeks a transfer to Minnesota.”

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