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Doctor sued after prescribed medication caused neurological disorder – Defense verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//March 16, 2020

Doctor sued after prescribed medication caused neurological disorder – Defense verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//March 16, 2020

Plaintiff was a 57-year-old woman with a long and complicated history of psychiatric illness. She came under the care of the defendant psychiatrist at the Hampton-Newport News CSB in April 2010 and remained under his care until June 2014. During his care of the plaintiff, the defendant psychiatrist prescribed a variety of psychotropic medications to treat plaintiff’s depression, anxiety and severe mood swings. The plaintiff responded well to some medications for periods of time, but she frequently complained that lithium, Remeron and other medications the defendant prescribed were ineffective over time. In July 2013, the defendant prescribed Geodon, an anti-psychotic medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar mania – conditions the plaintiff did not have. The defendant prescribed Geodon off-label as a mood stabilizer. The medication proved effective, but plaintiff developed tardive dyskinesia (“TD”), a severe neurological disorder, after taking Geodon for over nine months. Plaintiff’s experts testified the defendant was negligent for having prescribed Geodon off-label for mood stabilization. Plaintiff’s experts also testified the defendant did not properly screen plaintiff for signs and symptoms of TD after choosing to prescribe the medication. Plaintiff’s experts testified earlier diagnosis of the condition and cessation of the medication would have resulted in a reversible or less severe case of TD. The defendants’ experts maintained that mood stabilization was an appropriate off-label use of Geodon and that plaintiff’s TD was likely caused by cumulative exposure to neuroleptic medications over time, not the Geodon.

Type of action: Medical Malpractice

Injuries alleged: Permanent neurological disability – tardive dyskinesia

Name of case: Cleaves-McClellan v. Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board, et. al.

Court: Hampton Circuit Court

Case no.: CL15-1918

Tried before: Jury

Name of judge: Hon. James C. Hawks (Ret.)

Date resolved: Jan. 11, 2020

Demand: $5 Million

Verdict or settlement: Defense Verdict

Attorneys for defendant: Edward J. McNelis III and Grace Morse-McNelis, Richmond

Plaintiff’s experts: Keyhill Sheorn, MD; Patricia King, MD

Defendant’s experts: James Levenson, MD; Robert Pitsenbarger, MD; Paul Axelson, MD

Insurance carrier: DRM – Commonwealth of Virginia


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