Happy birthday, Louise Fletcher, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of the sadistic Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). Happy birthday also to Albert Brooks, writer/director/star of Modern Romance (1981), Lost in America (1985), Defending Your Life (1991), and a gaggle of other comedies. Brooks also did fine work as an actor in several non-comedies, such as Taxi Driver (1976), Broadcast News (1987), and Drive (2011). But for our money, his best performance is in Out of Sight (1998), where Brooks played a Michael Milken-esque financier-turned-prison-inmate. By the way, Brooks’ birth name was Albert Einstein. Brooks changed his name for obvious reasons. He cracked that the great physicist had changed his name to Albert Einstein simply to sound smart. Finally, happy birthday to Don Henley of The Eagles. Henley sang and co-wrote “Hotel California” (1977), an allegory about SoCal showbiz excess. The best line in the song is “We are all just prisoners here of our own device.”
Does that trio of birthdays suggest a theme? Indeed, it does: drugs and prisoners. Today’s case is Flowers v. Eli Lilly & Co., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS (D. Nevada July 10, 2015), in which a pro se plaintiff prisoner claimed that Zyprexa gave him diabetes. The plaintiff had been prescribed Zyprexa at the beginning of his incarceration in 1997, went off it in 2003, and then back on it in 2009, continuing up through the filing of the lawsuit in 2014. The plaintiff was diagnosed with diabetes in November 2012. After learning of the diagnosis, the plaintiff requested that he be taken off Zyprexa. The request was denied. Remember, the plaintiff was a prisoner. Patient choice seldom matters from a legal point of view in these cases (because of the learned intermediary doctrine, discussed below), but in this case it really, really does not matter. Zyprexa is an antipsychotic drug that can be used to treat very serious conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The court’s opinion does not tell us why the prison wanted the plaintiff to be on an antipsychotic, but odds are there was a very good reason.