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Zoloft Plaintiffs Win Motion to Remand

Zoloft Pregnancy Lawsuits

In the latest developments concerning Zoloft pregnancy lawsuits, federal Judge Cynthia Rufe of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted 25 plaintiffs’ motion to remand. The Judge determined that there was a “palpable connection” among the claims.

The 25 plaintiffs hold residency in 18 different states. They filed a single lawsuit against Pfizer and its subsidiary, Greenstone LLC, along with its division J.B. Roerig & Co. The Zoloft birth defects lawsuit was originally filed in a Missouri state court. However, the case was later moved to the Eastern District of Missouri. Subsequently, it was transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where it was consolidated into the Zoloft MDL proceeding under the direction of Judge Rufe.

The Zoloft MDL centralizes federal complaints filed against Pfizer that involve the defendants’ medication, Zoloft. These plaintiffs, along with the 25 plaintiffs involved in this latest development, claim that Pfizer failed to warn patients and healthcare professionals that the SSRI antidepressant had the potential to cause serious birth defects when it was taken by women who were pregnant.

Plaintiffs argued lack of diversity

The plaintiffs filed a motion to remand back to Missouri. They argued that there was a lack of diversity, which means that a state court, rather than a federal court, would have jurisdiction over the complaint. The plaintiffs based this argument on the fact that two of the families who filed the Zoloft pregnancy lawsuit are residents of New York and one family is from New Jersey. Greenstone holds its principal place of business in New Jersey and Delaware, while Pfizer and Roerig are in Delaware and New York.

The defendants opposed the motion to remand. Pfizer argued that the plaintiffs inappropriately consolidated cases into a solitary lawsuit for the purpose of defeating federal jurisdiction. Pfizer further argued that this action was not only impermissible, but that it was also fraudulent.

Missouri’s joinder rule

Judge Cynthia Rufe disagreed with the defendants and found in favor of the plaintiffs, determining that they did not inappropriately defeat federal jurisdiction and that the case could indeed be remanded back to Missouri state court. In her ruling, Judge Rufe made a note that the 3rd Circuit had yet to rule on whether it was going to implement the doctrine of fraudulent misjoinder.

Instead, the district court has ruled that when a defendant charges the plaintiffs with misjoinder, the court must decide “any uncertainties as to the current state of controlling substantive law in favor of the plaintiff. If there is even a possibility that a state court would find that the complaint states a cause of action against any one of the resident defendants, the federal court must find that joinder was proper and remand the case to state court,” noted Judge Rufe.

Therefore, the Judge used Missouri’s joinder rule. This joinder rule states that multiple plaintiffs may join together to file one lawsuit – such as a Zoloft pregnancy lawsuit – if the cases involve common statements of fact or questions of law.

  1. RxList, Zoloft,

  2. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, In Re: Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Products Liability Litigation,