December 10, 2012 — The first Zoloft lawsuit has been tentatively scheduled for trial on September 12, 2014, by U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe. She currently presides over the federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) which involves about 245 out of more than 300 Zoloft lawsuits. Lawyers will be spending the next few months negotiating which cases will be selected for the first trials.
The lawyers have until January 11 to submit proposals for cases that could potentially go to trial. They will need to whittle down this list and submit another proposal by March 15.
In large pharmaceutical litigation, the first trials are known as “bellwether trials.” The cases are selected because they involve similar injuries, allegations, or legal questions. The decisions from these “bellwether” cases help expedite a resolution in other cases, which can dramatically speed up a potential settlement.
The Zoloft litigation is mostly centralized in the MDL located in the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, with about 245 lawsuits in the MDL as of mid-October. There are also about 70 additional lawsuits filed in state courts in Illinois, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. In total, more than 311 lawsuits have been filed.
All of the lawsuits involve children who were born with birth defects after their mother used Zoloft during pregnancy. The lawsuits allege that Pfizer failed to adequately warn doctors or women about the potential risks of using Zoloft during pregnancy.