Pfizer's attempt to litigate lawsuit in federal court rebuffed
St. Louis–based law firm Carey, Danis & Lowe announces a lawsuit against Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), maker of the antidepressant drug Zoloft, that was originally filed in St. Louis Circuit Court then removed to federal court by the drugmaker, has been ordered back to the state court.
The lawsuit, Shainyah Lancaster, et al. v. Pfizer, Inc., cause no. 1222-CC00766, was filed on Feb. 2 in St. Louis Circuit Court on behalf of 21 children born with defects after their mothers were prescribed Zoloft while pregnant. The suit was brought on behalf of the plaintiffs by the law firms of Carey, Danis & Lowe; Matthews & Associates; Freese & Goss; and Clark, Burnett, Love & Lee.
On March 8, Pfizer removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri alleging that diversity of citizenship existed between the plaintiffs and the defendant. The lawyers representing the plaintiffs opposed the effort to remove the case to federal court. (S.L., et al. v. Pfizer, Inc., Case 4:12-cv-00420).
On April 4, U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson sided with the plaintiffs and ruled that the federal court did not have jurisdiction over the lawsuit because complete diversity of citizenship did not exist, granted the plaintiffs' motion to remand and sent the case back to St. Louis Circuit Court for further proceedings.
Zoloft (generic name sertraline) belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. The suit notes that SSRIs have been found to cause severe birth defects in the children of women who were prescribed the drug while pregnant and alleges that Pfizer knew or should have known that children born to mothers who had taken SSRIs during pregnancy had a greater risk of congenital birth defects and that despite knowing that physicians were prescribing Zoloft to women of childbearing age, Pfizer failed to adequately warn the medical community and the public of the danger.
The lawsuit asserts state law claims against Pfizer of negligence; negligence of pharmacovigilance, which requires Pfizer to monitor safety data for its drugs; strict liability; negligent design; failure to warn; and fraud. The suit seeks actual and punitive damages.
Founded in 1995, Carey, Danis & Lowe has offices in Missouri and Illinois. The firm handles personal injury, pharmaceutical liability, product liability, medical malpractice, class action and commercial cases throughout the United States.
Carey, Danis & Lowe
Jeffrey J. Lowe, 800-721-2519
Sarah Shoemake Doles, 800-721-2519