Jury Awards $1.3 Million in Tardive Dyskinesia Case
Appeals Court Raises Award to $2 Million
Dr. Breggin Testified for the Plaintiff
A tardive dyskinesia malpractice case in Baton Rouge, Louisiana resulted in a jury award of more than $1.3 million dollars on March 14, 1997. The case was appealed by the defendants but in a suprising result the appeals judge raised the award to approximately $2 million. The judge’s decision, from the Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit, cited the testimony of Dr. Peter Breggin in his ruling on November 6, 1998.
The plaintiff, Mrs. Lou Costanza Accardo, age fifty-two, had been treated as private office patient with intramuscular injections of Prolixin Decanoate, a long-acting neuroleptic. In addition to the large jury award, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, the corporation that manufacturers and distributes Prolixin, settled the product liability portion of the case for an undisclosed amount before the trial began. The drug company denied any negligence.
Peter R. Breggin, M.D., National Director of the Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, was an expert witness on behalf of Mrs. Accardo in both the product liability case against Bristol-Myers Squibb and the malpractice suit against her psychiatrist.
Dr. Breggin testified that the drug company was negligent in its labeling of the drug and that the doctor was negligent in his treatment. According to Dr. Breggin, negligence by the drug company and the doctor lead to Mrs. Accardo’s severe tardive dyskinesia, including tardive dystonia and tardive akathisia. Tardive dyskinesia is a largely irreversible movement disorder caused by neuroleptic drugs, such as Prolixin, Haldol, Navane, Thorazine, Mellaril and Stelazine, as well as Clozaril and Risperdal. Mrs. Accardo’s tardive dyskinesia is very severe and disabling. Muscle spasms and abnormal movements afflict her face, neck, shoulders and extremities, as well as her speech and breathing. Tardive dyskinesia occurs at a cumulative rate of 4-7% per year in otherwise healthy, relatively young patients treated with neuroleptic drugs. After only a few years, 20% or more of neuroleptic-treated patients will be afflicted with tardive dyskinesia. Older patients have an even higher risk.
Mrs. Accardo was given injections of Prolixin over a period of several years from 1983-1988 by Dr. Louis Cenac, a Baton Rouge psychiatrist. Before the trial was concluded, Dr. Cenac admitted liability and the jury was left to decide the monetary award.