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New Expert Witness Chosen in Zoloft Birth Defect MDL


January 9, 2015 — Hundreds of plaintiffs who are suing Pfizer for failing to warn that Zoloft can cause birth defects have been allowed to introduce a new expert witness, after their last exert witness was barred from testifying last year.

Law360 reports that U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe will allow Nicholas Jewell as their new causation expert. He is a professor at the University of California, Berkley’s School of Public Health and its statistics department.

Professor Jewell will present testimony on research linking the use of Zoloft during pregnancy with cardiovascular birth defects.

The previous expert witness, Dr. Anick Bérard, was set to testify on a wide variety of birth defects linked to Zoloft. However, last year, Judge Rufe barred testimony from Dr. Bérard after finding that she “failed to base her opinion upon scientifically valid methodology and reasoning.”

In the opinion approving testimony from Professor Jewell, Judge Rufe stated:

“It appears that Dr. Jewell’s proposed expert testimony encompasses a significantly more limited range of birth defects than did Dr. Berard’s.”

According to The Legal Intelligencer, Pfizer is facing about 60 lawsuits alleging that Zoloft causes heart defects. In total, about 528 lawsuits involving Zoloft birth defects have been centralized in federal court.


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