Attorneys disagree on choosing Zoloft MDL trial pool cases

Zoloft lawsuits filed around the country have been consolidated to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, Judge Cynthia M. Rufe presiding. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation entered its Transfer Order creating the Zoloft MDL on April 17, 2012. At that time, the number of lawsuits numbered around 92. Today, 1 1/2 years later, there are close to 5 times as many cases (430+) in the Zoloft MDL. The first few cases are scheduled to begin in October 2014, but Plaintiffs and Pfizer are having a difficult time agreeing which of the cases should move forward.

The Zoloft lawsuits in the MDL share similar claims that the popular antidepressant drug causes birth defects when taken by pregnant women. These include holes in the heart (septal defects ASD and VSD), cleft palate, clubfoot, spina bifida, skull defects including craniosynostosis, and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). The plaintiffs similarly have many of the same claims against Pfizer, including failure to warn of potential risks and negligence in the manufacture and marketing of Zoloft.

The initial “trial pool” of 25 cases must be narrowed down to six, three from each side. Currently there is disagreement as to how to proceed. Pfizer proposes the Plaintiffs go first and pick three cases; then, the drug company will decide which of its cases to prepare and proceed to trial. The Plaintiffs argue that in the name of fairness, both sides simultaneously should select their cases. Pfizer further asks that only one case be presented on the October 13, 2014 trial date.

The Special Discovery Master, Andrew Chiris offers: “Let’s agree to disagree. ” Negotiations continue.

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