Zoloft Lawsuit Filed Over Child’s Death From Severe Birth Defects

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by a Wisconsin couple, which alleges that side effects of Zoloft use during pregnancy caused their child to develop severe birth defects and die following birth. 

The Zoloft lawsuit (PDF) was filed by Ryan and Justyne Eaton in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on January 3, alleging that their child was born with brain malformations, hydrocephalus and pulmonary hypoplasia, which ultimately caused her death following birth on January 6, 2010.

Over the past year, a growing number of families throughout the United States have filed similar Zoloft birth defect lawsuits against Pfizer, alleging that the drug maker failed to adequately warn users or the medical community about the risks associated with becoming pregnant on Zoloft.

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Zoloft (sertraline) is one of the most widely prescribed medications in the United States, and has been used by tens of millions of individuals. However, growing research has linked Zoloft to severe birth defects and malformations, such as persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN), spina bifida, neural tube defects, heart defects, abdominal defects, club foot and other severe health problems.

Hundreds of Similar Birth Defect Lawsuits Over Zoloft

The Eatons’ complaint will be consolidated in the federal court system with approximately 250 other Zoloft lawsuits currently centralized in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania before U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe. The Zoloft litigation has been consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations and they are being coordinated to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

According to a Pretrial Order issued in November 2012, a small group of cases are being selected this month to undergo case-specific discovery in preparation for the first Zoloft trial date, which is expected to begin in September 2014.

In complex pharmaceutical litigation, where a large number of claims involve similar allegations, a small group of cases are often prepared for early trial dates, known as “bellwether” trials. The outcomes of these cases are designed to allow the parties to gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be offered throughout the litigation and help facilitate a possible Zoloft settlement agreement.

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