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Hiring a Qualified Zoloft Lawyer

A Zoloft lawyer can help those who have suffered complications from the antidepressant, including birth defects in children whose mothers took the drug while pregnant, learn about their options for filing a personal injury and/or product liability lawsuit against the drug’s manufacturer, Pfizer.

Zoloft (sertraline) is an antidepressant that belongs to a category of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. These drugs treat symptoms of depression by altering serotonin levels in the brain. While Zoloft has proven effective in treating depression and other mental disorders in some patients, others have suffered serious side effects from the drug.

When Zoloft was first introduced to the U.S. market in 1999, it was hyped by its manufacturer Pfizer as a safer alternative to older antidepressants like Prozac. During its first six years, nearly 30 million prescriptions were written for this new medication. Zoloft quickly became the most prescribed antidepressant drug in the United States, with sales grossing $2.6 billion in 2005.

Reports of side effects on the rise

2005 also saw a rising number of reports of serious side effects associated with Zoloft. Early complaints included an increase in depression symptoms while taking the drug. Some Zoloft users also experienced suicidal thoughts and ideation while on the antidepressant.

Eventually, reports of birth defects linked to Zoloft use during pregnancy began to surface. Severe, even life-threatening birth defects like heart defects, limb abnormalities and defects affecting the brain and gastrointestinal tract were reported.

Another serious condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn, or PPHN, was seen in some babies of mothers who used Zoloft during their pregnancies. Some of the babies that suffered Zoloft side effects required emergency medical care or surgery in their early days of life. A few died from their injuries, leaving families empty and grieving for their children.

How a Zoloft lawyer can help

Some of those injured by Zoloft did not receive adequate warning about the risks associated with the drug. In fact, it was not until 2006 that the FDA released its first safety warning regarding Zoloft use and PPHN. Studies since that time have also indicated the drug could increase the risk for congenital heart defects in newborns.

A qualified lawyer can be a valuable asset for someone who has been injured by Zoloft. A product liability attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system, protect your rights and ensure you get the compensation you are entitled to. An experienced lawyer knows how to prove Pfizer’s failure to notify the medical community and general public about the risks associated with their antidepressant, and link the drug to your specific side effects.

Injured patients may be eligible to pursue compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and past and future medical bills.

A Zoloft attorney can help you with the following:

  • Case Preparation:  Preparing for a trial is a complicated and overwhelming task to someone new to the legal process. Having an attorney experienced in dangerous drug litigation by your side will ensure all of your pre-trial steps are fully covered. A lawyer will prepare discovery and depositions, collect evidence on your behalf and establish proof for trial.
  • Battle Big Pharma: Pfizer is a pharmaceutical giant with deep pockets, which puts consumers at a distinct disadvantage in a courtroom. A lawyer experienced in taking these companies to trial will know how to find the fastest and most effective route to resolution of your case. These professionals are not intimidated by Big Pharma and will work for you to get the justice you and your family deserve.
  • Settlement Negotiation: In cases where numerous plaintiffs file similar lawsuits against a single company, settlement negotiations are a possibility. It is important to have legal representation by a team that has negotiated many settlements to ensure the proposal you receive is fair and adequate for your needs.
  • The Trial Process:   When negotiations are not an option, an experienced Zoloft attorney will be ready to prepare your case for trial. Look for a lawyer with a strong track record of success in the courtroom to ensure you get the most favorable outcome possible.

Coordination of Zoloft lawsuits

As Zoloft lawsuits continued to be filed across the country, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated federal lawsuits into multidistrict litigation, or MDL. This coordination is established when there are a number of similar complaints against a single defendant to make early trial proceedings more efficient and convenient for all parties involved. The Zoloft MDL was assigned to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where it is overseen by the Honorable Judge Cynthia M. Rufe.

At the time the MDL was established, there were approximately 90 Zoloft complaints pending against Pfizer. Currently, there are more than 420 complaints pending. Judge Rufe has selected 25 cases as bellwether trials, which are early trials that will provide insight into how juries will respond to evidence and testimony in future cases. These early trials may also lead to settlement negotiations between the defendant and plaintiffs.

Attorneys representing plaintiffs in the MDL are now in the throes of pre-trial preparations. This includes collecting evidence, deposing witnesses and perusing studies on the risks associated with Zoloft use. Their challenge will be to prove Zoloft use directly caused their clients’ injuries and to show that Pfizer knew of the potential risks, but failed to communicate those risks to the medical community or general public.

Zoloft attorneys must be prepared to handle a wide range of complaints.

Notable Zoloft birth defect lawsuits include:

  • Louisiana parents of a newborn that was diagnosed with PPHN shortly after birth. Their attorney alleges the antidepressant also led to other side effects in the child, including learning disabilities and high blood pressure.
  • A North Carolina mother plaintiff alleges use of Zoloft during pregnancy led to a myriad of birth defects in her newborn, including limb abnormalities, spinal defects, a heart murmur and hip dysplasia. This plaintiff accuses Pfizer of purposely concealing information about the risks associated with their drug from the FDA, medical providers and patients.
  • A Rhode Island mother plaintiff who alleges Zoloft use led to various cardiac malformations in her newborn son. The plaintiff claims that as a result of his birth defects, her son will be subjected to ongoing medical monitoring and treatment.