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Burnham v. Wyeth Laboratories Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 14, 2018

ARTHUR BURNHAM, Plaintiff,
v.
WYETH LABORATORIES INC., UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL CENTER; DR. NAWRAS SHUKAIR, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUETTS MEDICAL CENTER PATIENT RECOVERY CENTER SECURITY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT WYETH PHARMA CEUTICALS LLC'S MOTION TO DISMISS (DOCKET NO. 29)

          TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Arthur Burnham (“Plaintiff”) brings a variety of claims against several Defendants. Relevant for the purposes of this motion, he brings a claim for product liability against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals LLC (erroneously identified as “Wyeth Laboratories Inc.”) (“Defendant Wyeth”). Defendant Wyeth filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (Docket No. 29). For the reasons below, Defendant Wyeth's motion is granted.

         Background

         The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's complaint and assumed to be true at this stage of the litigation. (Docket No. 1).

         On March 7, 2012, Plaintiff suffered a seizure while in custody of the Southbridge Police Department and became incontinent. Plaintiff claims that Southbridge Police disseminated a video of the incident, which mocked Plaintiff. Subsequently, Plaintiff developed “major depressive disorder and suicide [sic] ideation with multiple self-mutilations.” Id. ¶ 9.

         On June 14, 2015, Plaintiff voluntarily presented himself to the University of Massachusetts's Emergency Room. He reported having a “suicidal crisis” and contemplating “suicide by cop.” Id. ¶ 15. Plaintiff notes that he was rated as “severe” on a crisis rating scale and therefore required hospitalization.

         On June 16, 2015, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Shukair prescribed him Effexor “without being warned or even explained [sic] what type of medication it was other then [sic] it was an aint-depressant [sic].” Id. ¶ 22. Later that day, Plaintiff experienced “shaking” chest muscles, elevated heart rate, confusion, and became “highly upset.” Id. ¶ 25. Plaintiff subsequently requested to be discharged and pushed through several hospital employees to leave. Metro Crime Prevention, who had arrived due to Plaintiff's aggressive behavior, told Plaintiff they were “not going to fight” him and said, “if you want to leave just leave.” Id. ¶¶ 29, 88.

         After Plaintiff left the hospital, he experienced suicidal ideation because he “was so agitated at police over the video and mistreatment.” Id. ¶ 30. He then went to the police station, doused a police car with gasoline, and lit the car on fire. He was subsequently arrested and sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for psychiatric treatment.

         Plaintiff filed this lawsuit bringing, among several other claims, a product liability claim for defective Effexor against its manufacturer, Defendant Wyeth.

         Standard

         A defendant may move to dismiss, based solely on the complaint, for the plaintiff's “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege “a plausible entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 559, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). Although detailed factual allegations are not necessary to survive a motion to dismiss, the standard “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555. “The relevant inquiry focuses on the reasonableness of the inference of liability that the plaintiff is asking the court to draw from the facts alleged in the complaint.” Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 13 (1st Cir. 2011).

         In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Langadinos v. American Airlines, Inc., 199 F.3d 68, 68 (1st Cir. 2000). It is a “context-specific task” to determine “whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief, ” one that “requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) (internal citations omitted). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). On the other hand, a court may not disregard properly pled factual allegations, “even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955.

         Because Plaintiff appears pro se, we construe his pleadings more favorably than we would those drafted by an attorney. See Erickson v. Pardus,551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197 (2007). Nevertheless, Plaintiff's pro-se status does not excuse him from complying with procedural and ...


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