Pfizer claims Zoloft discovery documents are privileged

Discovery is underway in the national Zoloft MDL. It is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit in which each party can obtain documents and information from the opposing party. In order to expedite this process, presiding judge Hon. Cynthia Rufe has appointed Andrew Chirls as Special Master to make decisions regarding the admissibility of documents.

Pfizer already has produced approximately 2.7 million pages of documents in the Zoloft MDL. The drug company now claims that portions of its discovery including 1,535 documents should be protected by attorney-client privilege.

Special Master Andrew Chirls has denied 17 claims of privilege made by Pfizer. He has also denied two other claims in part and upheld them in part. Pfizer is appealing these decisions to Judge Rufe.

“Under the supervision of an attorney with more than two decades of experience in providing legal representation to Pfizer on discovery issues, trained litigation-review attorneys could and did make focused judgments to distinguish between communications obviously having the purpose of seeking or providing legal advice or professional legal services and communications that plainly did not have that purpose,” Pfizer said.

Many of the documents that Pfizer is trying to protect involve correspondence between Pfizer’s director of worldwide regulatory strategy and an Australian attorney. According to Special Master Chirls, these documents contain references to Australian regulations of pharmaceuticals and should be appropriately redacted and provided to Plaintiffs. 

Judge Rufe has not yet ruled on Pfizer’s appeal

Zoloft lawsuits filed across the country have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. Cases in the Zoloft MDL claim that children suffered birth defects caused by mothers taking the SSRI antidepressant drug during pregnancy. The birth defects include:

  • persistent pulmonary hypertension of a newborn (PPHN)
  • arterial and ventricular septal defects (ASD & VSD)
  • omphalocele (an abdominal wall defect)
  • craniosynostosis (a skull defect)
  • spina bifida (a neural tube defect)
  • cleft lip and cleft palate
  • other congenital birth defects

If your child was born with a birth defect after Zoloft use during pregnancy, you may have a right to substantial financial compensation and should contact an experienced Zoloft litigation attorney. Time limits apply. Act now.

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