The second bellwether trial over the birth defect risks of Zoloft, Pfizer Inc.’s antidepressant drug, should have started by the time this issue is received. The success of the expert in that case will affect plaintiffs’ chances in the Zoloft multidistrict litigation, which is in federal court. The plaintiffs have good experts and they should do well in this case. But the plaintiffs will have to persuade U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe, who is presiding over the federal MDL, to admit the testimony of some of the experts. So far, Judge Rufe has restricted testimony by three plaintiff’s experts and rejected that of the plaintiffs’ only epidemiological expert.
Opening statements in the state court trial, which involves 8-year-old Mia Robinson’s heart defects, were scheduled for Monday, June 1, in a Pennsylvania state court. This suit was filed in 2011. This child was born with transposition of the great arteries, a condition in which two of the main blood vessels exiting the heart are in the wrong position. The condition requires intensive medical attention and surgery.
There are about 20 or so Zoloft birth defect suits in state courts and significantly more in the MDL, which included up to 100 lawsuits when it was consolidated in 2012. Judge Rufe has so far selected five federal bellwethers to start in January 2016. A win in the Robinson case is crucial to all plaintiffs because it was the plaintiff’s pick to go to trial.
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