Acetaminophen Lawsuits Over Autism and ADHD Risks Centralized in Federal MDL
A panel of federal judges has decided to centralize acetaminophen autism and ADHD lawsuits being pursued by families throughout the U.S., consolidating the claims before one judge in New York for coordinated discovery and consolidated pretrial proceedings.
Each of the claims raise similar allegations, indicating that the use of over-the-counter acetaminophen during pregnancy caused children to develop autism spectrum disorders (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivty disorder (ADHD), or both. The claims will also involve similar questions of fact and law for the court to determine, about whether the makers and retailers of the drugs should have warned about the risks associated with the active ingredient in Tylenol and other popular pain medications.
While there are currently only about 50 complaints filed against retailers of generic pain medications containing acetaminophen, including Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Costco and other companies, it is widely expected that the size and scope of the litigation will increase dramatically in the coming weeks and months, and will likely include several thousand Tylenol lawsuits that will eventually be brought against Johnson & Johnson for it’s role in causing the widespread use of acetaminophen during pregnancy.
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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) heard oral arguments last week from lawyers representing a number of families pursuing claims, who all supported centralization of the lawsuits, with most proposing that the cases be transferred to either the Northern District of California or District of Minnesota so that one judge could manage the pretrial proceedings and reduce the risk of duplicative discovery.
Each of the defendants named so far in the litigation opposed centralization, arguing that lumping all cases involving acetaminophen sold by various different companies into one federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) was not appropriate or efficient. The retailer defendants also indicated that centralization was premature and should be considered after claims against Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers are added to the litigation. However, the MDL panel found the arguments unpersuasive and determined that establishing an MDL for the acetaminophen lawsuits was appropriate at this time.
In a transfer order (PDF) issued yesterday, the U.S. JPML determined that all acetaminophen autism and ADHD lawsuits will be assigned to Senior U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in the Southern District of New York.
“A single MDL is the most appropriate vehicle for resolving defendants’ common defenses concerning preemption and general causation, in addition to discovery of common suppliers, regulatory agencies, and other third parties,” the JPML wrote in response to the defendants’ arguments against consolidation. “We are confident that the transferee judge can accommodate any issues involving the different products and defendants, including confidentiality and retailer-specific discovery, in a manner that guarantees the just and efficient resolution of all cases.”
Acetaminophen ADHD, Autism Risks
The litigation comes in the wake of recent studies that have highlighted the risk that prenatal exposure to Tylenol increases the autism and ADHD risks.
In October 2019, a study published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry found that children with the highest levels of acetaminophen metabolites in their blood at birth had the highest risk of the developmental disorders.
According to additional research published in the European Journal of Epidemiology in June 2021, children exposed to Tylenol during pregnancy were 19% more likely to have autism spectrum disorders and 21% more likely to have ADHD symptoms compared to non-exposed children.
Due to the potential acetaminophen pregnancy risks, researchers from Columbia University warned that doctors should re-evaluate the role of the pain medication for pregnant women in 2020, after finding that prenatal exposure may lead to impaired neurodevelopment in the fetus.
2022 Acetaminophen MDL Lawsuit Update
Following the establishment of the federal MDL for all acetaminophen lawsuits over autism and ADHD, it is expected that Judge Cote will schedule an Initial Status Conference, and appoint a small group of plaintiffs attorneys to serve in various leadership positions during the coordinated pretrial proceedings, arguing motions before the Court and taking certain actions that benefit all families pursuing claims.
As Tylenol lawyers continue to investigate and review potential claims for families throughout the U.S. over the rest of 2022 and 2023, it is widely expected that the litigation will increase dramatically in size and scope. Therefore, it is likely that Judge Cote will establish a “bellwether” process, where small groups of representative claims involving autism and ADHD are prepared for early trial dates against different defendants to help gauge how juries will respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.
Following the coordinated pretrial proceedings in the Tylenol autism/ADHD MDL, if the parties fail to negotiate settlements to resolve large numbers of claims, each individual lawsuit may later be remanded back to the different U.S. District Courts nationwide where they were originally filed for future trial dates.
Latest Information on Acetaminophen Lawsuits
Learn more about the allegations raised in Tylenol lawsuits being pursued by families of children diagnosed with autism and ADHD, and follow the latest acetaminophen lawsuit updates on AboutLawsuits.com.
MelissaNovember 24, 2022 at 11:21 am
I really don’t understand the cut off age. My daughter just turned 22. She is extremely autistic with epilepsy because of all the seizures which caused so much damage in the brain so now she is considered mental retarded as well. I don’t know how to fix this gap I took Tylenol. That’s the only thing that we could give our daughter. And y’all are putting a age limit on what happened to my daug[Show More]I really don’t understand the cut off age. My daughter just turned 22. She is extremely autistic with epilepsy because of all the seizures which caused so much damage in the brain so now she is considered mental retarded as well. I don’t know how to fix this gap I took Tylenol. That’s the only thing that we could give our daughter. And y’all are putting a age limit on what happened to my daughter because of maybe the use of Tylenol I don’t understand that she is a child like a 18 month old baby, trapped in adult body so I believe that y’all need to lift the age limit. This is a lifelong debilitating disability that doesn’t end at the age of 18. I don’t think you should discriminate.
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