The personal injury lawyers in twelve Zofran suits are concerned because on July 6, 2016, GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s seventh largest pharmaceutical manufacturer, filed a motion to consolidate all Zofran birth defect lawsuits, according to attorneys at Monheit Law. Filed before the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, the motion relates to “twelve federal actions, pending in ten separate judicial districts across the United States, alleging essentially the same conduct by GSK.” In these dozen lawsuits, parents allege that prenatal exposure to Zofran, often prescribed as an “off label” treatment for morning sickness, caused their children to develop severe birth defects.
Noting that the company expects “more actions [to] be filed nationwide,” GlaxoSmithKline’s motion requests that all current and forthcoming Zofran birth defect complaints be consolidated before a single judge so that “pretrial discovery and motion practice” can be conducted along “uniform and consistent standards.” GlaxoSmithKline asks for the lawsuits to be consolidated in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. A major portion of GlaxoSmithKline’s US operations are headquartered at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard.
Applying for the consolidation of individual lawsuits is a frequent step in mass torts that involve similar issues and allegations in which a high volume of claims has already been filed or is expected. If GlaxoSmithKline’s motion is granted, all Zofran birth defect lawsuits brought in federal court will be transferred to a single judge in a chosen venue, and their administration will thus be made more efficient. Consolidation presents benefits for both plaintiffs and defendants, as well as the court system itself, since litigating each case on its own would prove less practical.
Zofran birth defect claims filed in state, rather than federal courts, may be removed to federal court and then eventually transferred to the Zofran Products Liability Litigation MDL (Multi-District Litigation).
In twelve individual personal injury lawsuits, plaintiffs claim that GlaxoSmithKline unlawfully promoted Zofran, a drug that has never been approved for use during pregnancy, as an “off label” morning sickness treatment. Furthermore, each plaintiff alleges that GSK has been aware of mounting evidence that Zofran increases the risks of birth defects when ingested during prenatal development. Parents say that the company concealed this evidence, failing to warn the public and health community of Zofran’s potential risks. Mothers claim that they were prescribed Zofran for the treatment of morning sickness, and then delivered children with major birth defects as a result. Plaintiffs claim damages for a number of birth defects, including congenital heart defects like ventricular septal defect and atrial septal defect and orofacial anomalies like cleft lip and cleft palate.
GlaxoSmithKline’s motion notes that Zofran birth defect lawsuits have been filed in federal courts in Massachusetts, Montana, Alabama, Louisiana, New Jersey, Arkansas, Ohio and Texas. For an overview of these complaints, visit ZofranLegal.com.
The company argues that Judge Cynthia M. Rufe should be appointed judge to administer the Zofran MDL, in light of her experience managing two other MDL’s involving pharmaceutical drugs (Zoloft and Effexor) that plaintiffs claimed caused birth defects. As an alternate, GSK names Judge Paul S. Diamond, who presided over an MDL involving thalidomide and its connection to birth defects.
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