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Taylor vs. Solvay Pharmacueticals

2/6/2003

Drug firm settles with Columbine victim

http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E53%257E1162902%257E,00.html

By Howard Pankratz hpankratz@denverpost.com
Denver Post Legal Affairs Writer

Columbine survivor Mark Taylor today dropped his lawsuit against the manufacturer of a drug he claimed made Eric Harris homicidal and suicidal in return for the company contributing $10,000 to the American Cancer Society.

Under the terms of the settlement, Belgium-based Solvay Pharmacueticals won't pay Taylor or his lawyers any money.

Taylor and Solvay executives agreed that dismissal of the lawsuit doesn't mean either has waived from their contentions about the merits of Luvox. Taylor alleges Luvox is dangerous while Solvay says it has helped millions cope with depression.

"Mr. Taylor believes his claims had merit, but Solvay has always denied, and continues to deny, each of Taylor's claims about Luvox," said the agreement read in Denver federal court by U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer.

In accepting the settlement, Brimmer said he thought the case was one that needed to be settled and noted that a couple of years ago a Wyoming jury had issued an The $10,000 being given to the American Cancer Society is described as a "charitable donation" in the settlement.

"Both parties are pleased with the amicable resolution and dismissal of this case without the need of subjecting the Denver community and the victims of Columbine to a public trial of this case," said the settlement.

Taylor just barely survived the April 20, 1999, Columbine rampage in which Harris and fellow student Dylan Klebold embarked on the nation's deadliest school shooting.

Taylor was critically injured when Harris threw two pipebombs at him and unleashed a volley of shots that wounded Taylor at least six times.

Taylor was a sophomore at the time and saw Harris out of the corner of his eyes a fraction of a second before he was gunned down. Harris and Klebold fatally shot 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.

One of Taylor's experts, Dr. Peter Breggin, wrote in a report filed in U.S. District Court that he believed Luvox triggered Harris' participation in the rampage.

"On April 20, 1999, at the time he committed multiple homicides and suicide, Eric Harris was suffering from a substance induced (Luvox-induced) mood disorder with depressive and manic features that had reached a psychotic level of violence and suicide," Breggin wrote. "Absent persistent exposure to Luvox, Eric Harris probably would not have committed violence and suicide."

Breggin contends that Luvox is one of a family of depressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that cause people to become violent. The SSRIs include Luvox, Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil.

But the drug manufacturers deny that the drugs cause such adverse affects and say they have been very helpful to those who use the medications.

Solvay believes that Harris was exhibiting violent tendencies long before he started taking Luvox.

The settlement came after a marathon, after-hours negotiating session Wednesday night presided over by U.S. Magistrate Patricia Coan. Present were Taylor, his mother Donna, Taylor's lawyer Ron Miller and a legal team representing Solvay Pharmaceuticals, the Belgium-based company that makes Luvox.

The terms of the settlement were announced at what was to have been two days of pre-trial motions in front of U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer.