Legal News

Zoloft MDL Scrapped by Judge

July 25, 2018

Per The Legal Intelligencer:

The federal judge presiding over the Zoloft multidistrict litigation has granted Pfizer’s request to toss the MDL on the grounds that the plaintiffs couldn’t muster an expert to illustrate a link between the drug and birth defects.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania effectively ended the MDL—pending any appeals to the Third Circuit—which has been going on for over three years. According to Rufe’s order, the clerk was instructed to close all but 23 of the more than 300 remaining cases, which were against defendants other than Pfizer and co-defendant Wolters Kluwer Health.

Rufe wrote in her opinion that while it hasn’t been proven that Zoloft doesn’t cause birth defects, the attempts in court to prove that it does have failed.

“Dismissal without prejudice under the circumstances of this MDL and in the face of this essential defect of proof would work against the fair administration of justice,” Rufe said. “The court recognizes that the final scientific verdict as to whether Zoloft can cause birth defects may not be delivered for many years. Nevertheless, plaintiffs chose when to file their cases, and the court concludes that for the plaintiffs who have continued to pursue their claims, the ­litigation gates must be closed.”

She added, “At the end of the day, plaintiffs have failed to raise a jury question on the necessary predicate to success in any case: that Zoloft was capable of causing their injuries.”

The plaintiffs have had difficulty in offering causation experts, with Rufe shooting down one after the other. In December, Rufe barred the testimony of the plaintiffs’ general causation expert, Dr. Nicholas Jewell, a professor of biostatistics at the University of California, Berkeley. Rufe’s ruling came after the dismissal of hundreds of noncardiac birth-defect cases in the litigation over the summer—halving the litigation in size. Jewell was put forth as the expert for the remaining, cardiac-related cases. At its peak, the MDL numbered around 600 cases.

By |2018-09-03T07:31:28+00:00July 25th, 2018|General|

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