October 24, 2012 — According to a report from a coordinator for the Zoloft Multi-District Litigation (MDL), there are 311 Zoloft lawsuits pending in the MDL and courtrooms around the United Sates. The coordinator identified 245 Zoloft lawsuits in the MDL, 14 lawsuits in Illinois, 43 lawsuits in Missouri, 7 lawsuits in New York, 1 lawsuit in Pennsylvania, and 1 lawsuit in West Virginia.
Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, who currently presides over the Zoloft MDL in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, is working to coordinate the centralization of these lawsuits between state and federal court. The MDL was formed in April 2012 by an order from the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (JPML). The MDL has grown by hundreds of lawsuits since April, and continues to grow.
By centralizing the litigation, there is a lower risk of duplicative discovery or conflicting rulings. One location also increases efficiency, conserves court resources, and often expedites a resolution of the matter, either by trial or settlement.
The federal MDL is currently engaged in pre-trial proceedings. Lawsuits filed at the state court level are at different stages; some have exchanged discovery, motions, and deposition notices. Judge Rufe is working with judges in those cases to coordinate the litigation.
She has also established status conferences for the following dates:
- November 19, 2012
- January 17, 2013
- February 25, 2013
- March 25, 2013
The Zoloft litigation involves accusations that Pfizer failed to adequately warn pregnant women about the potential increased risk of birth defects when Zoloft is taken during pregnancy. Although the link between Zoloft and birth defects is inconclusive, at least a dozen studies have found that Zoloft increases the chances of having a baby with a heart defect, abdominal defect, cranial defect, intellectual disability, Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN), and more.
It is likely that attorneys in the MDL will soon begin negotiating which cases to use in bellwether trials. The cases selected for the first few bellwether trials have similar facts, injuries, or legal questions as other cases in the MDL. When the bellwether trials are decided, they can help determine legal matters in other cases. This helps expedite a resolution or potential settlement.