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Jefferson v. Ferrer, Poirot & Wansbrough

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

February 25, 2015

FERRER, POIROT & WANSBROUGH, et al., Defendants.


JOHN S. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.


Defendant Eli Lilly and Company ("Lilly") has filed its cross-motion for summary judgment (Docket Entry No. 246). Plaintiff Jefferson has filed a response in opposition (Docket Entry No. 250).

For the reasons stated below, the undersigned Magistrate Judge finds that Defendant Lilly's motion for summary judgment should be granted and the complaint against it dismissed.


Plaintiff Jefferson, who is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, has filed this action against Defendant Lilly and others alleging that Lilly committed numerous legal wrongs in the course of settling a pharmaceutical product liability case in which Plaintiff Jefferson was a plaintiff. Liberally construed, Plaintiff's complaint charges Lilly with violation of Plaintiff's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, negligence, and fraud. Plaintiff seeks money damages.

Defendant Lilly has filed its motion for summary judgment.


It appears undisputed in this and other cases[1] filed by Plaintiff Jefferson alleging similar claims that Jefferson was a plaintiff in a pharmaceutical product liability class action based upon the drug Zyprexa, an antipsychotic drug sold by Defendant Lilly. This case was included in an MDL proceeding maintained in a federal district court in New York.[2] Defendant Ferrer Poirot & Wansbrough, a Dallas, Texas, law firm, represented Plaintiff Jefferson in this action.

As part of a settlement of this earlier case, Plaintiff Jefferson on October 16, 2007, signed a confidential release of all claims (Docket Entry No. 248-1 at 2-10). Later, on February 26, 2008, Plaintiff Jefferson signed his mother's name to a document entitled "Zyprexa Settlement Award Acknowledgment Form" and a disbursement statement acknowledging the amount of his portion of the MDL settlement (Docket Entry No. 327-4 at 2-3). Plaintiff Jefferson admits that he received a total settlement amount of approximately $28, 000, of which he paid his lawyers approximately $11, 000 (Docket Entry No. 250 at 32-33). Of the remaining approximately $17, 000 that Plaintiff Jefferson received, he states that he gave all but $200 to his immediate relatives (Id. )

Jefferson in the present action claims that, due to his mental illness, he was legally incompetent to sign a binding agreement to settle his product claim against Lilly, and that the Defendants in this action, including Lilly, in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known that his execution of the settlement documents was legally invalid due to his mental illness.


A party may obtain summary judgment by showing "that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Covington v. Knox County School Sys., 205 F.3d 912, 914 (6th Cir. 2000). The moving party bears the initial burden of satisfying the court that the standards of Rule 56 have been met. See Martin v. Kelley, 803 F.2d 236, 239 n.4 (6th Cir. 1986). The ultimate question to be addressed is whether there exists any genuine dispute of material fact. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Covington, 205 F.3d at 914 (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)). If so, summary judgment is inappropriate.

To defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. If the party does not so respond, summary judgment will be entered if appropriate. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). The nonmoving party's burden of providing specific facts demonstrating that there remains a genuine issue of material fact for trial is triggered once the moving party shows an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. A genuine issue of material fact exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must construe ...

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