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A Plaintiff Born With Birth Defects Joins the Zoloft MDL

Zoloft, known generically as sertraline, is an antidepressant medication in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug class. On December 30, 1991, the FDA approved Zoloft to treat major depressive disorder (MDD); it was later approved to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, acute post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

A lawsuit is transferred to the Pennsylvania Zoloft MDL

On July 16, 2012, Tyreke Reese’s lawsuit was transferred from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to the Zoloft MDL headquartered in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). The plaintiff had first filed her case on June 19, 2012, but her Zoloft attorney petitioned for the complaint to be transferred, explaining that it involved “questions of fact that are common to the actions previously transferred.”

According to her lawsuit, Plaintiff Reese was born with birth defects from Zoloft because her mother had taken the drug during pregnancy. Reese suffers from atrial septal defect (ASD) and other conditions that are allegedly attributed to use of Zoloft during pregnancy.

As a result of her birth defects, Reese has required surgery, extensive medical treatment, and medical monitoring throughout her life. Her complaint states that, prior to her mother’s pregnancy, manufacturer Pfizer knew or should have known of the risk of birth defects, including congenital heart defects like ASD.

The establishment of the MDL

On April 17, 2012, the JPML established the Zoloft MDL and originally consolidated nine civil actions; an additional 47 actions soon followed. On July 13, 2012, Reese’s lawsuit was given a conditional transfer order to the MDL, and on July 16, 2012, Reese’s complaint was transferred to MDL headquartered in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where Judge Cynthia M. Rufe presides.

According to Reese’s lawyer, “Pfizer knew from preclinical studies and subsequent published studies that dangerous birth defects were associated with Zoloft use during pregnancy. Pfizer took no action to properly study Zoloft and/or did not properly publish the results of studies that it did conduct, which would have reflected the increased risks. Pfizer failed to adequately warn or remedy the risks and, instead, concealed, suppressed, and failed to disclose the dangers. Despite the studies, Pfizer continues to deny these dangers.”

The complaint against Pfizer

Reese’s complaint charges Pfizer with defective design, negligence, and fraudulent misrepresentation and concealment, including the allegation that Pfizer concealed the risk of birth defects with the active intent to deceive patients, including Reese’s mother, to take their product during pregnancy.

In her Zoloft litigation, Reese requests punitive and compensatory damages, and also asks for legal costs, interest, and such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.

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