Second Zoloft trial over suicide starts next week

John O'Brien Apr. 13, 2012, 7:44am

ORLANDO, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - More than a year after a mistrial, a lawsuit against those who prescribed Zoloft to Gary Torrence, who later committed suicide, will again go to trial next week.

The first trial ended in October 2010, when Judge Julie O'Kane of Florida's 9th Judicial Circuit ruled the defense showed the jury prejudicial evidence, according to Courtroom View Network. Torrence killed himself on May 24, 2005, after taking Pfizer's anti-depressant Zoloft, and his widow Pamela filed suit.

The defendants - Sarah Army, Dr. Aparna Hernandez and Southwest Internal Medicine Specialists - were granted a motion to dismiss in 2007 when the case was in federal court, but the plaintiff amended the complaint and asked for the case to be remanded to state court, which it was.

Torrence was a hotel general manager for the Orlando Embassy Suites and had just been transferred to a prestigious new hotel in Washington, D.C., when he committed suicide. He was prescribed Zoloft for insomnia.

A federal judge wrote that the plaintiff's argument "arise from... Defendants' choice of Zoloft as a treatment modality for Mr. Torrence's insomnia. This is the quintessential example of the use of a health care provider's medical judgment, skill or expertise."

Pfizer is no longer a defendant in the case.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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