MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) – Forest Laboratories LLC can’t be held liable for a man’s murder-suicide crimes after he committed the actions while on a generic version of its anti-depressant medication, the Supreme Court of Alabama ruled on Oct. 25.
The judges determined that because Forest Laboratories LLC did not manufacture the drug in question, it can’t be held responsible for the tragedy. The court reversed a ruling that denied Forest Laboratories' motion for summary judgment.
While Elias Joubran was prescribed Forest Laboratories’ Lexapro to help with his depression, his prescription was later filled with the generic escitalopram that was not manufactured by Forest Laboratories. Joubran had the prescription for Lexapro when he shot his wife, Sheila Clay Joubran, before turning the gun on himself.
The administrator for Sheila’s estate, Kevin J. Feheley Sr., sued Forest and Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc., claiming that Elias was under the drug that Forest Pharmaceuticals manufactured. After the Calhoun Circuit Court denied summary judgment for Forest Pharmaceuticals, the Supreme Court reversed.
It leaned on its previous decision in Wyeth Inc. v. Weeks and whether section 6-5-530 repealed that decision concerning if a pharmaceutical manufacturer can be responsible for a prescription it didn’t manufacture.
“Under the plain language of section 6-5-530, a pharmaceutical manufacturer cannot be held liable for injury caused by a product it did not manufacture… we reverse the trial court’s order denying Forest’s motion for a summary judgment and remand this case for proceedings consistent with this opinion,” Justice Alisa Kelli Wise wrote.
Wise added that any other concerns, such as whether Forest wasn’t protected under the statute as it was the designer of the labeling, warnings and package inserts for the generic drug in question, was not for the high court to determine.
Chief Justice Tom Parker and Justices Michael F. Bolin, Tommy Bryan, William B. Sellers, and Jay Mitchell concurred. Justices Brady E. Mendheim and Sarah H. Stewart concurred in the result.