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Shah v. Forest Laboratories, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

May 26, 2015

MAHASUKH K. SHAH, individually and as Special Administrator of the estate of Manan H. Shah, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
FOREST LABORATORIES, INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment, Defendants' motions to exclude the testimony of Plaintiff's expert Dr. Michael Hamrell (Hamrell) and the testimony of Plaintiff's expert Dr. Henry Conroe (Conroe), and on Plaintiff's motion to strike. For the reasons stated below, the motion for summary judgment is granted, the motion to exclude the testimony of Hamrell is granted, the motion to exclude the testimony of Conroe is denied, and Plaintiff's motion to strike is denied as moot.

BACKGROUND

On December 1, 2008, Manan M. Shah (Shah) at age 27 allegedly saw psychiatrist Susan Bank (Bank) for depression and anxiety and was prescribed the drug Lexapro. Taking the Lexapro allegedly caused Shah to suffer increased depression and suicidal thoughts, and on December 7, 2008, Shah committed suicide. Plaintiff contends that Defendants failed to adequately warn Shah about the increased risk of suicide that he faced at age 27 when taking Lexapro. Defendants also point to evidence showing that Shah, who had an Indian cultural heritage, faced an expectation that he would excel academically and professionally, and an expectation that as the youngest son he would financially take care of his parents in their old age. Defendants also contend that there is evidence showing that Shah had been depressed and suffered anxiety for a significant period of time prior to his taking Lexapro due to his perceived lack of success academically and financially. Defendants further contend that evidence shows that Shah had been researching ways to commit suicide before he began taking Lexapro. In addition, Defendants argue that Shah was warned both orally and in writing regarding the increased risk of suicide when he was prescribed Lexapro.

Plaintiff Mahasukh K. Shah, brings claims individually and as the Special Administrator of the estate of Shah. Plaintiff includes in the complaint a wrongful death negligence claim (Count I), a wrongful death strict product liability claim (Count II), a wrongful death breach of express warranty claim (Count III), a wrongful death breach of implied warranty claim (Count IV), a wrongful death negligent misrepresentation claim (Count V), a survival negligence claim (VII), a survival strict product liability claim (Count VIII), a survival breach of express warranty claim (Count IX), a survival breach of implied warranty claim (Count X), a survival negligent misrepresentation claim (Count XI), and a respondent in discovery claim (Count XII). The court notes that there is no "Count VI" listed in the complaint and the omission of such a count designation appears to have been an inadvertent omission on Plaintiff's part. The instant action was conditionally transferred to the Eastern District of Missouri as part of multi-district litigation (MDL) for certain pretrial proceedings, and was subsequently transferred back to this court. Defendants now move for summary judgment, and move to exclude the testimony of two of Plaintiff's proposed experts. Plaintiff has moved to strike certain substantive testimony of one of Defendants' witnesses.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Smith v. Hope School, 560 F.3d 694, 699 (7th Cir. 2009). A "genuine issue" of material fact in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must consider the record as a whole, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

Since the instant action is before the court based on diversity subject matter jurisdiction and this court sits in the state of Illinois, the court applies the substantive law of the state of Illinois. See Hahn v. Walsh, 762 F.3d 617, 629 (7th Cir. 2014)(stating that "the Erie doctrine provides that federal courts sitting in diversity apply state substantive law and federal procedural law'")(quoting Gasperini v. Ctr. for Humanities, Inc., 518 U.S. 415, 427 (1996)).

I. Motions to Exclude and Strike

Defendants move to exclude certain testimony by Plaintiff's experts, and Plaintiff moves to strike changes to a deposition transcript by a witness of Defendants.

A. Defendants' Motions to Exclude Testimony of Hamrell and Conroe

Defendants move to exclude certain expert testimony of Hamrell and Conroe. Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides the following:

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:
(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

Fed. R. Evid. 702. Before admitting expert testimony, a court must conduct an analysis in accordance with the principles set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). Stuhlmacher v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 774 F.3d 405, 409 (7th Cir. 2014). Under the Daubert analysis, a court must "determine whether the testimony is reliable and whether it will assist the trier of fact in determining some fact that is at issue." Id. (explaining that "the district court serves as a gatekeeper' whose role is to ensure that an expert's testimony is reliable and relevant"). The court must also determine whether the expert is qualified. See Myers v. Illinois Central R. Co., 629 F.3d 639, 644 (7th Cir. 2010)(explaining that "[u]nder Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert, the district court must engage in a three-step analysis before admitting expert testimony" and "[i]t must determine whether the witness is qualified; whether the expert's methodology is ...


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