Zofran Birth Defect Class Action Lawsuit-Like Centralization Sought in Federal Court

Austin Kirk

By Austin Kirk
Posted July 8, 2015


A motion has been filed in the federal court system to centralize all Zofran birth defect lawsuits before one judge as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation. While such coordinated pretrial proceedings are often confused with a Zofran class action, there are important differences and each case would still remain an individual injury claim for children born with serious health complications after exposure to Zofran during pregnancy.

Injury Lawyers

Find Out If Your Child Qualifies For a Zofran Birth Defect Lawsuit


The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. represent families of children throughout the United States who have suffer heart defects, cleft palate, cleft lip or other congenital malformations as a result of the pregnancy side effects of Zofran.

While there are currently only a few dozen complaints filed throughout the federal court system, our Zofran lawyers expect that several thousand birth defect lawsuits will eventually be included in the litigation.

As the number of cases continues to increase, the drug maker is now seeking to centralize the Zofran litigation to reduce the risk of duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the courts.

GlaxoSmithKline filed a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) this week, asking that cases filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country be transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

If established, the litigation would be managed in a manner similar to a Zofran birth defect class action lawsuit. However, each plaintiff will still have the burden of establishing that an injury was caused by Zofran exposure during pregnancy and that the drug maker failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community.

Zofran MDL vs. Class Action Lawsuit

All complaints involved in the Zofran litigation involve nearly identical allegations, claiming that the drug maker placed their desire for profits before the safety of children by promoting their anti-nausea drug for morning sickness treatment, even though Zofran is not safe for pregnant women.

The claims involve common questions of fact and law, particularly involving what the drug maker knew about the link between Zofran and birth defects and whether pregnancy warnings should have been added to the anti-nausea drug. However, each claim will also involve individualized injuries and circumstances that will vary for each child injured.

Unlike a class action, where all claims can be tried through one class representative, each Zofran lawsuit may ultimately need to go before a separate jury if settlements or another resolution for the litigation is not reached during pretrial proceedings.

If a Zofran MDL is established, the judge will likely coordinated discovery and depositions into issues that are common to all claims. A small group of birth defect cases may then be selected for a “bellwether” program, where the representative claims will go through case-specific discovery in preparation and be scheduled for a series of early trial dates that may help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be similar throughout many different cases.

While the outcomes of these early trials are not binding on claims within the class, they may influence eventual negotiations to reach Zofran birth defect settlements.

The U.S. JPML is not likely to make a decision about whether to establish a Zofran MDL until the fall. At this time, our lawyers continue to review potential claims for families of children throughout the United States who have suffered:

  • Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate
  • Congenital Heart Defect
  • Wrongful Death

Request a free consultation and case evaluation if you believe your child may have suffered an injury following exposure to Zofran during pregnancy.


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