We’ve been following the antidepressant heart defect litigation closely. The most recent development involves an April 17 order by the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidating 57 Zoloft birth defect lawsuits pending in federal courts into a single court case in front of Judge Cynthia Rufe in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which is the federal court in Philadelphia.
Many lawyers were surprised by the consolidation order. As mentioned above, as of the day of the order, only 57 Zoloft lawsuits have been filed in the federal courts. Although we anticipate that several hundred similar lawsuits will eventually be filed, and the combined verdicts and settlements could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars, it is still unusual to see the federal courts order consolidation for a type of lawsuit that involves dozens, rather than hundreds or thousands, of cases, like the recently consolidated Actos and prolapse mesh and sling litigations do.
Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft, had requested the consolidation and had suggested the Southern District of New York, either districts of Mississippi, or the Northern District of Ohio, but in the end the judicial panel ruled that Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the best venue, all not least because half of the pending cases have already been filed there.
We did not believe that consolidation was necessary for these cases, because the consolidation would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy among the attorneys pursuing these cases, but in the end we don’t think it will pose a problem for parents pursuing claims on behalf of their children. We are particularly glad the litigation will remain here, where it is most convenient for our attorneys and the attorneys for the majority of the parents who have already filed.
Many so-called “genetic” birth defects are actually the result of the baby being exposed to a dangerous medication or malpractice during the birth and delivery. Medical studies have shown that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft dramatically increase the risk of serious side effects for babies such as atrial septal defects, ventral septal defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns, spina bifida, and other injuries to the heart, lungs, brain, and abdomen. Lexapro, too, has been linked to spina bifida and birth defects of the mouth such as cleft palate.
If you suspect your child was injured by Zoloft during your pregnancy, please read more about our pharmaceutical compensation attorneys at The Beasley Firm and contact us for a free, confidential consultation by using the contact form above.
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