ECT Litigation Update: Are Patients Being Warned of Brain Damage Risk?

David Karen, Esq.
11
2073

The DK Law Group (“DKLG”) continues to litigate new actions on behalf of those injured by ECT.

In October of 2018, in Riera v. Somatics, LLC, the United States District Court for the Central District of California ruled that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that the prominent manufacturer of ECT devices, Somatics, LLC, caused brain injury in the plaintiffs by failing to warn their treating physicians of the risk of brain injury associated with ECT, and also through a failure to investigate and report to the FDA complaints of brain damage and death resulting from ECT.

The decision is now published and can be cited to support that those who administer ECT must keep aware of, and communicate to patients, the complaints of injury reflected by the FDA’s adverse event database. If the manufacturer fails to report complaints of a particular adverse event or risk, and a patient doesn’t receive warning of that risk in consenting to treatment, both the manufacturer and the doctors/ECT providers are potentially liable.

Immediately following the resolved Riera litigation, Somatics, LLC published the following disclosure on their website: “ECT may result in anterograde or retrograde amnesia. Such post-treatment typically dissipates over time, however, incomplete recovery is possible. In rare cases, patients may experience permanent memory loss or permanent brain damage.”

Despite no changes in the safety or effectiveness questions presented by use of their manufactured devices since 1984 (all ECT devices are on the market through a “grandfathering” loophole, solely by virtue of their “substantial equivalence” to ECT devices marketed before 1984), Somatics nonetheless published this “new” disclosure. The question remains: why, and why now?

Likely believing that the new disclosure will eliminate their future exposure for brain damage they cause, the issue is now whether the disclosure is adequate and whether any such warning is actually being provided to ECT patients. Have the purchasers of Somatics Thymatron devices adopted any warnings, providing them to potential ECT patients that there is the risk of traumatic brain injury or “brain damage” resulting from ECT? Based on ongoing new ECT client intake information obtained by DKLG, the answer is a resounding “NO.”

Upon review of hundreds of the “informed” consent forms received from those suffering permanent cognitive impairment after receiving ECT, the overwhelming majority of consent forms do not provide the patient with any form of disclosure that “brain damage is a risk that can potentially occur from ECT, whether performed properly or not.” Nor do consent forms describe the ongoing debate within the medical field about ECT’s safety and effectiveness.

Clearly the new Somatics disclosures were designed to attempt to create a shield against claims for ECT-related injuries going forward. However, the disclosures may actually cement liability for the manufacturers for their failure to disclose of this known risk for ALL ECT patients undergoing ECT in the past. Given the ECT industry’s steadfast denial of any long-term damage caused by ECT (for over the past fifty years), the “new” disclosure would now seem to be a blessing for all potential ECT Plaintiffs.

The legal issue that is now on the horizon is the appropriate “tolling” of the statute of limitation for ECT patients who have suffered brain damage from past ECT. Other named Plaintiffs in the Riera litigation were dismissed on statute of limitation grounds, denied their right to amend their complaint to allege delayed discovery of the “negligent cause of their brain damage” from ECT. An appeal addressing the right to amend their complaint remains pending for decision before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.

The appeal addresses the right of ECT victims that had been suffering from post-ECT cognitive impairment caused by brain damage from ECT to delay the filing of a complaint until the negligent cause of their damage was known. As NO ONE has ever admitted or established that brain damage is potentially caused by ECT until now, the claims should legally be allowed to proceed, regardless of how long ago the ECT treatment occurred.

Once the pending appeal is decided, the ruling may allow the remaining Plaintiffs in the Riera litigation the right to amend their complaint to allege delayed discovery and extension of the statute of limitation. If success occurs on appeal, this anticipated ruling may open the door for many more ECT plaintiffs to obtain the redress they deserve for the damage caused by ECT, no matter how long ago their ECT took place.

For those ECT patients undergoing recent ECT, DKLG is now actively pursuing the filing of new complaints on behalf of those ECT survivors for the product liability litigation against ECT manufacturers and select ECT providers.  The new actions are being filed across the U.S. to address injuries caused by the failure to warn of the risks of permanent cognitive injury caused by the brain damage associated with ECT.

In effort to secure the support that the claims deserve, DKLG has affiliated with Baum Hedlund Aristei and Goldman, P.C., (“BH”) to prosecute all further ECT matters. BH is recently well known for their “Roundup” verdicts in similar product liability litigation ($289 million and $2 Billion). Accordingly, DKLG and BH are now enlisting help from attorneys nationwide. New actions are being pursued in all states on behalf of those ECT patients who have suffered lasting cognitive impairment from traumatic brain injury as a result of receiving electroconvulsive therapy without warning of the known and knowable risks involved.

These next rounds of new cases have already commenced, with actions now pending in the state courts in California, Oregon and Illinois. Hundreds of similarly complaining ECT victims have now reported identical lasting cognitive impairment and evidence of brain damage following ECT and have begun the process of case evaluation with DKLG. The aim is to bring each and every one of these cases to verdict to both ensure proper compliance with federal law by ECT device manufacturers, and true informed consent to those who receive ECT.

If you want to do your part to strengthen the cause, and you or someone you know has suffered harm from electroconvulsive therapy, file an adverse event report with the FDA: Report ECT Injuries

For an example of a partially completed report: Medwatch Sample Report

Each complaint lodged that the manufacturers fail to investigate and follow-up upon is another piece of evidence potentially usable in all ECT litigation.

In further developments and in the continuing effort to support the ongoing progress toward spreading awareness of the risks of ECT and to seek to compensate those injured from ECT, the “ECTJustice.com” site has been gifted to the DK Law Group.  The site will continue to operate to allow for dissemination of all current information regarding ECT litigation, ECT awareness and new developments.

If you or a loved one has suffered injury without adequate warning of brain damage associated with ECT, or for inquiry regarding the status of ECT litigation may be addressed to:  [email protected].

11 COMMENTS

  1. EСT is the same as neuroleptics, total ignorance and exponential neglect of human health, with no positive effects at all. This is the same thing as prefrontal lobotomy in the 1950s. It’s such a strange ideas, that shocking brain with electricity and a regular poisoning could help someone. And don’t let new computer technologies mislead you, we live in a dark ages. Today i read the news, son of billionaire Yegor Sosin had an acute psychosis, due to drug overdose (marijuana?) And he killed his mother, one of the reasons – she gave him pills (antipsychotics) and according to him, because of the pills hallucinations began. I read an article that you cannot treat psychosis caused by marijuana (and maybe other drugs?) with antipsychotics, but this information is very difficult to find and no one knows it. The boy studied in one of the best schools in the world, had his own business and was socially very active. Of course, he was given a chronic diagnosis and instead of prison he was sent to a psychiatric hospital for compulsory treatment. The article provides an interview with a psychiatrist. I will quote.
    – Was it a temporary insanity?
    No. Sosin is still sick, so he was sent to compulsory treatment, and not to prison.
    – So he was sick for a long time”
    Apparently, for a long time. How much time – a question for specialists.
    – He was aware of his actions when he killed his mother?
    No, he did not.
    – It is strange that earlier none of his friends, relatives did not notice any deviations behind him …
    Apparently, he had such a disease. The disease manifested itself in this way.
    – It is known that Sosin took drugs. Maybe under the influence of drugs, he decided to kill?
    The fact that he took serious drugs, we learned only from his testimony. This moment is not proven.

    Isn’t it strange? Firstly, in psychosis a person does not lose the ability to be aware of his actions. It is even more serious crime. Because psychosis is like a test, and you realize it.
    Secondly, how can a person be declared chronically ill, when he had only one drug induced psychosis?
    And finally, I want to say that if you had drug induced psychosis – after taking antipsychotics hallucinations occur, for example, like real cartoons, if you concentrate attention on a picture.
    As for ECT i’m sure this procedure works in a similar way – doctors do this because this is their job, but subconsciously (like in psychosis) everyone knows that it is harmful and meaningless.

  2. Wow David this is remarkable news and progress! I sure hope the appeal on the statute of limitations to amend complaints is successful. What a celebration it would be to open the flood gates in holding those who inflicted such harm to account and to get justice for victims.
    Thanks for your diligent work in this matter!

  3. Given the story told in Robert Whitaker’s book, “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” there are a lot of people here who had the adverse and withdrawal effects of the antidepressants (and ADHD drugs) misdiagnosed as “bipolar.”

    https://www.alternet.org/2010/04/are_prozac_and_other_psychiatric_drugs_causing_the_astonishing_rise_of_mental_illness_in_america/

    Despite that being blatant malpractice, even according to all DSMs, except the new DSM5, from which this disclaimer was removed.

    “Note: Manic-like episodes that are clearly caused by somatic antidepressant treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy) should not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder.”

    These are the current “bipolar” treatment recommendations:

    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355961

    But these treatment recommendations are problematic, because all doctors were taught in med school that combining the anticholinergic drugs (both the antidepressants and antipsychotics are anticholinergic drugs) is unwise, because this can cause anticholinergic toxidrome.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxidrome

    And the reality is that the psychiatrists can NOT tell the difference between “psychosis” and “hallucinations” caused by anticholinergic toxidrome, and “psychosis” and “hallucinations” caused by one of their now debunked as “invalid” and “unreliable” DSM disorders.

    https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml

    The reality is the only real difference between the symptoms of anticholinergic toxidrome and “schizophrenia” is “hyperactivity” vs. “inactivity.” But the antipsychotics/neuroleptics can also cause “inactivity,” and the other “negative symptoms” of “schizophrenia,” via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroleptic-induced_deficit_syndrome

    None of the millions of misdiagnosed “bipolar” people has been able to sue, because the current “bipolar treatment recommendations,” the “standard of care,” are a recipe for how to make all “bipolar” diagnosed, get the symptoms of “schizophrenia.”

    Please consider some sort of class action lawsuit, or taking cases, of the millions of people who had the adverse or withdrawal effects of the antidepressants misdiagnosed as “bipolar.”

    Ten years ago the “mental health” workers were all running around like lunatics proclaiming “the antidepressants unmask bipolar.” No, but the antidepressants can make people “manic.”

    • Our “mental health” workers should have learned to read their DSM. And that disclaimer should NOT have been taken out of the DSM5, instead the ADHD drugs should have been added to that disclaimer.

      And just an FYI, all the “mental health” workers I worked with lied (or are ignoramuses), and claim that none of their drugs can cause the symptoms of their DSM disorders. Plus, they lie, and claim their DSM disorders are “real,” “lifelong, incurable, genetic illnesses.”

      Both “bipolar” and “schizophrenia” are iatrogenic illnesses, that can be created with the psychiatric drugs. Neither “bipolar” nor “schizophrenia” is a “real” “genetic” illness.

  4. Even if patients are giving informed consent, that does not make it okay. These are government licensed medical personnel. They are not supposed to be the providers of vanity procedures. So even if a patient begs for it, they are not supposed to ever administer any procedure which does not serve a valid medical need.

    We must stop our government from being able to issue licenses to Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists.

  5. Dozen of comments on bland articles, hundreds of comments about a woman complaining about being locked up with dangerous
    “Addicts” in the psych ward, but 7 comments on this article on ECT- why does the most horrendous torture causing permanent brain damage get so little attention? Why are three brn injured women forced to be the main advocates for acknowledgement of harm and possible rehabilitation? Where is the support from human rights groups, feminist groups, doctors other than Peter Breggin? What will it take?

    • I’m not sure what it will take. Perhaps it is because we are just “crazy people” and so our lives don’t matter very much? I view all of these things as being part of a larger pattern, where the long-term effects of Psychiatric treatment are completely disregarded. That is why the Doctor who came up with the lobotomy won the noble prize in medicine!

      When we do complain about the long-term effects we can be dismissed because of course, we are obviously crazy! But you are right about getting human rights and feminist groups on board.