Kristi Norgart McBride lived with her husband in
Santa Rosa, California. Kristi suffered from manic-depressive mental illness (now called bipolar disorder). In this disease, a person cycles between manic episodes (ultra-happy, expansive, and extroverted) and depressive episodes. The disease is
often treated with prescription drugs. Kristi attempted suicide. A psychiatrist prescribed an anti-anxiety drug. One year
later, Kristi attempted suicide again by overdosing on drugs. The doctor prescribed Halcion, a hypnotic drug, and added
Darvocet-N, a mild narcotic analgesic. Five months later,
after descending into a severe depression, Kristi committed
suicide by overdosing on Halcion and Darvocet-N. Exactly
six years after Kristi’s death, Leo and Phyllis Norgart, Kristi’s parents, filed a lawsuit against the Upjohn Company, the
maker of Halcion, to recover monetary damages for the
wrongful death of their daughter, based on Upjohn’s alleged failure to warn of the unreasonable dangers of taking Halcion. Upjohn argued that the one-year statute of limitations for
wrongful death actions had run and that the case against it Dennis and Francis Burnham were married in West Virginia.
One year later, the couple moved to New
Jersey, where their two children were born.
After 11 years of marriage, the Burnhams decided to separate. Mrs. Burnham, who intended to move to California, was to
have custody of the children. Mr. Burnham agreed to file for divorce on grounds of irreconcilable differences. He later
threatened to file for divorce in New Jersey on grounds of
desertion. After unsuccessfully demanding that Mr. Burnham
adhere to the prior agreement, Mrs. Burnham brought suit for divorce in California state court. One month later, Mr.
Burnham visited California on a business trip. He visited his children in the San Francisco Bay area, where his wife resided. He took the older child to San Francisco for the weekend.
Upon returning the child to Mrs. Burnham’s...
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