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Lawsuit Alleges Serious Complications from Shingles Vaccine

Blurry Background of Nurse are vaccinations to patient. To prevent diseases that are prevalent. closed-up of hand with vaccine shot.

Venus and Jason Calvert recently filed a product liability lawsuit against the makers of Zostavax, a vaccine intended to prevent shingles. It alleges that the vaccine caused the very disease it was intended to prevent. The Calverts further allege that the vaccine resulted in chronic pain, rashes, and lesions. This recently filed lawsuit is one of hundreds filed against Merck & Co. with regard to alleged complications from the Zostavax vaccine.

Specifics of the Zostavax lawsuit

The Calverts are residents of Washington State. According to the complaint, Venus received the vaccine in April of 2012 in order to prevent the development of shingles. However, she did develop severe symptoms of shingles in June 2017 and was diagnosed with the disease. In addition to suffering from chronic pain, Venus had lesions and rashes on her body.

The shingles vaccine lawsuit alleges that the makers of Zostavax should be held liable for defects in design, negligence, and failure to warn patients and doctors of the serious risks of the vaccine. In addition, Jason Calvert seeks compensation for loss of consortium and harm to the marital relationship.

About shingles and Zostavax

Zostavax was approved by the FDA in 2006 for the prevention of shingles in adults ages 50 and older. It is a single-dose injection that contains a live, weakened virus. One of the allegations of the Zostavax lawsuits is that the virus was under-attenuated, or not sufficiently weakened. This allegedly led to the causation of shingles, rather than its prevention in certain patients.

About one million people in the U.S. develop shingles every year. It’s caused by the herpes zoster virus, which remains in the body after an individual has had chickenpox. There, it can lie dormant for years or decades before getting activated and causing shingles. Shingles can be a particularly painful illness, causing a rash, blisters, and nerve pain that can last for months after the acute illness has subsided.

A look at Zostavax litigation trends

Due to the similar statements of fact and allegations raised in the hundreds of Zostavax drug injury lawsuits filed around the nation, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) moved to centralize the federal lawsuits into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). This legal proceeding consolidates similar lawsuits for the purpose of streamlining the litigation process, conserving the financial resources of all involved parties, and preventing duplicative discovery and contradictory rulings across jurisdictions.

The Zostavax litigation is proceeding in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III is overseeing the MDL.

After an MDL goes through the discovery process, bellwether trials are held. These are individual trials of cases that are representative of the litigation as a whole. Bellwether trials are intended to allow all involved parties to gauge jury reactions to evidence and expert witness testimony. The outcome of any one trial is not binding on any of the others. During and after the bellwether trial process, it’s common for the presiding judge to encourage the parties to engage in settlement negotiations. If any cases are not resolved by settlements at the time that the last bellwether trial concludes, they will be remanded back to their home districts for trial.

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