Paxil Birth Defect Lawsuit Will be Tried in State Court

A <"">Paxil birth defect trial was remanded to state court last week. According to a report on, the decision by Judge Timothy J. Savage of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to send the Paxil birth defect lawsuit to Pennsylvania is a blow to the drug’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline, which prefers to litigate claims in federal court.

The Paxil birth defect lawsuit had originally been filed in Pennsylvania state court, but Glaxo had successfully moved to have it sent to federal court. According to, Glaxo argued the Philadelphia state court had no basis to hear the case because the individual plaintiffs weren’t citizens of Pennsylvania. Despite having headquarters in Philadelphia, Glaxo claimed it wasn’t a citizen of the state because it is a Delaware limited liability company.

In remanding the case back to Pennsylvania state court, Judge Savage drew on a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Hertz Corp.v. Friend, in which the high court decided that a company’s principal location is the place where its officers direct, control and coordinate their activities, Judge Savage said that because Delaware-based GlaxoSmithKline Holdings delegated the decision-making authority for Glaxo to the company’s executives, who are based in Philadelphia, the company must be considered a citizen of Pennsylvania.

GlaxoSmithKline lost the first Paxil birth defect lawsuit to go to trial in October 2010, when a Philadelphia jury ordered the drug maker to pay $2.5 million to the family of a 3-year-old boy who was born with heart defects. The jury found 10-2 that Glaxo officials “negligently failed to warn” the doctor treating the child’s mother about Paxil’s birth defect risk. It also concluded the antidepressant was a “factual cause” of the child’s heart defects.

The case, known as Kilker v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. d/b/a GlaxoSmithKline, was seen as a leading indicator of the strength of more than 600 similar cases.

Last July, we reported that Glaxo had agreed to pay in excess of $1 billion to settle hundreds of lawsuits over Paxil birth defects. Over 800 birth defect cases were resolved with the massive settlement.

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