Defense Verdict In Connecticut

Bruce F. Gilpatrick received a defense verdict in Bridgeport, Connecticut Superior Court on behalf of a psychiatric nurse and a major hospital.

Plaintiff demanded $1.2 million in damages against the defendants who also included an internist and hospital psychiatrist.  Plaintiff, a 42-year-old married woman claimed that she suffered a seizure after abruptly stopping Xanax when she became pregnant.  As a result of the seizure she also suffered a severe ankle fracture.  Plaintiff also claimed that she now suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or chronic debilitating pain in the left ankle making it difficult for her to walk.  Plaintiff contended that the seizure was a known risk of abruptly stopping Xanax.  Plaintiff argued that the seizure could have been avoided if she was tapered off the medication gradually.  In addition, she claimed that she was exhibiting signs and symptoms of Xanax withdrawal when she was seen in the hospital emergency room by a psychiatric nurse and discharged without any treatment for withdrawal leading to a seizure.  Less than 2 hours later plaintiff had a seizure.

The defense was predicated on the fact that Xanax is considered a category D drug by the FDA posing real risk of harm to a fetus in the first trimester including development of congenital defects.  Consequently, it was appropriate to immediately stop the use of Xanax on becoming pregnant.  Our psychiatric nurse saw the patient in the emergency room 5 days after she stopped taking Xanax.  The issue for the nurse and the hospital was whether she was exhibiting signs of Xanax withdrawal.  The defense was that the plaintiff, while anxious, was not displaying signs and symptoms of apparent withdrawal in the emergency room and that it was appropriate to discharge the plaintiff to be seen in follow up by her internist the next day

On July 2, 2013, the jury returned a defense verdict.  The jury deliberated for approximately 90 minutes and returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendants.