Parents are filing lawsuits against GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Zofran, a drug that Plaintiffs claim causes major birth defects.
Recent analyses suggest that more than 1 million “off label” Zofran prescriptions are written to pregnant women every year. With that widespread usage in mind, the legal community expects numerous families who believe that Zofran exposure caused a child’s birth defects to step forward in the coming months.
Any situation in which a large number of consumers file lawsuits against a single Defendant brings the term “class action” to mind. In fact, many attorneys have presented the ongoing Zofran litigation, in which more than a dozen families have filed claims against the drug’s manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, as a potential class action.
Will Zofran Lawsuits Lead To Class Action?
At Banville Law, we do not believe that Zofran lawsuits will result in a class action, and our experienced attorneys intend to file only individual personal injury lawsuits.
With that being said, it is likely that federally-filed Zofran claims will be “consolidated.” But rather than as a class action, we believe that these individual lawsuits will eventually become a “Multidistrict Litigation” (MDL).
How Multidistrict Litigation Works
Multidistrict Litigation respects the uniqueness of each Plaintiff’s personal circumstances, while acknowledging that a “streamlined” approach may benefit all parties involved.
In an MDL, federally-filed lawsuits that involve similar allegations against one Defendant are transferred to what is called a “transferee” court. By moving the claims to this single court, they can be overseen by a single judge, who in turn can make rulings that pertain to all of the consolidated lawsuits. Essential pretrial phases are conducted in the transferee court, too. Most notably, “Discovery,” a phase during which Plaintiffs and Defendant share evidence with one another, can be conducted in common.
Once these pretrial proceedings have been completed, the individual lawsuits are remanded, sent back, to the courts in which they were originally filed. At that point, each Plaintiff can make the very personal decision of whether to proceed to trial or accept a settlement offer for themselves.
How The Two Are Different
In class actions, on the other hand, one or more individuals who believe they have been injured will file a lawsuit on behalf of a larger class of people. In order to qualify as a class member, people have to have been injured in a similar way and make similar allegations against a Defendant. Likewise, to serve as an adequate “representative” of this class, those individuals filing the lawsuit must make allegations that are typical of those made by members of the wider class.
Class actions are most common when a large number of people have relatively small claims against a single Defendant. Since litigation can be costly, combining these small claims makes the entire process more cost-effective for everyone in the class. But just as court and legal costs are shared among class members, any court award or settlement is shared, too.
In practice, many class members never receive any compensation at all. Analyzing every consumer class action filed in Federal Courts during 2009, legal consultants Mayer Brown found that “in five out of every six cases, the highest proportion of class members to receive any form of settlement was around 12%.”
In cases involving pharmaceutical products and large corporate Defendants, claims are more often consolidated in an MDL. Because each Plaintiff will have been harmed in a unique way, it’s often impossible to find a single individual who can adequately represent the others.
Why Are Families Filing Birth Defect Lawsuits?
Although the anti-nausea drug Zofran is commonly prescribed as a treatment for morning sickness, it has never been approved for use during pregnancy. And now that millions of pregnant women around the globe have been exposed to Zofran’s active ingredient, medical researchers have been able to investigate its potential effects on fetal development.
In at least three major epidemiological studies, Zofran has been linked to an increased risk for birth defects: cleft palate and heart defects, including atrial and ventricular septal defect. In response to these findings, parents have begun to file lawsuits against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the company behind Zofran.
Families across the country claim that GSK promoted Zofran to doctors as a “safe and effective” morning sickness treatment, without ever conducting any clinical trials involving pregnant women. In fact, these parents say that the company has been receiving evidence of Zofran’s association with birth defects for more than two decades but hid that information from the FDA, health community, and patients nationwide.
Learn More In A Free Consultation
The attorneys at Banville Law have chosen to pursue individual lawsuits because we believe that every family, parent or birth defect survivor deserves individual attention. We take great pains to ensure that our clients are fully informed on the status of their claim, every step of the way.
In complex litigation like an MDL, there’s nothing more valuable than an experienced team. That’s why Banville Law has joined forces with a group of distinguished plaintiffs’ attorneys to investigate potential Zofran claims. Many of these lawyers have spent their entire careers litigating complex pharmaceutical mass torts; many have taken on huge corporate Defendants successfully.
If you delivered a child with major birth defects after being prescribed Zofran, Banville Law can help. Our personal injury attorneys are now providing free consultations to families who believe that prenatal exposure to Zofran may have caused a child’s cleft palate, congenital heart defects, and other abnormalities.