A Zoloft MDL has been created in the federal court in Philadelphia, PA. On April 17, 2012, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation entered an Order transferring all Zoloft lawsuits pending in federal court to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for coordinated and consolidated pretrial proceeding. Hon. Cynthia M. Rufe is the judge assigned to preside over the Zoloft MDL.
The Transfer Order was entered on Pfizer’s motion relating to 57 actions filed across the country. It sought the creation of MDL either in the Southern District of New York, Northern District of Mississippi, or Nothern District of Ohio. After Pfizer’s motion was filed, the Panel was notified of more than 35 additional federal actions pending. There currently is no national Zoloft class action.
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Many Plaintiffs opposed transfer to a MDL. Most of those opposing transfer had cases pending in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that had been removed from state court. They argued that Pfizer created the appearance of the need for a MDL by improperly removing the cases. In the alternative, they favored centralization in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) or the Southern District of Illinois (East St. Louis). Other plaintiffs favored consolidation in various other District Courts across the country.
Zoloft lawsuits claim that the SSRI antidepressant drug caused birth defects in children born of mothers who took Zoloft during pregnancy. The Panel found that the cases involve common questions of fact and centralization in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses as well as promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.
“These actions share factual questions arising out of allegations that Zoloft causes birth defects in children whose mothers ingest the drug while pregnant,” the JPML wrote. “Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary.”
“Judge Cynthia M. Rufe is an experienced transferee judge with the willingness and ability to handle this litigation,” the panel added.
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