Emerging research indicates that repeated in-utero exposure to acetaminophen, a pain-relief drug, may cause ADHD. Many women who took Tylenol or generic acetaminophen while pregnant are filing product liability lawsuits against the makers of these defective drugs after their children were diagnosed with ADHD. Plaintiffs believe that the makers of the defective medications had a responsibility to alert the public to the increased risk of ADHD associated with taking acetaminophen-based pain relief drugs during pregnancy.
They argue that their damages, such as medical expenses, reduced earning capacity, and emotional distress should be compensated. If you have reason to believe that your ADHD or your child’s ADHD is the result of a defective medication, it is in your best interest to seek out the legal advice of an experienced product liability attorney to explore your options for compensation.
What is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?
ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder. It is often characterized by impulsivity, difficulty prioritizing, and problems maintaining focus. New research has raised concerns that women who take Tylenol or acetaminophen while pregnant are at an increased risk of their child developing ADHD or autism.
Understanding How ADHD Can Present
The stereotype of ADHD is a young boy that is disruptive and distracted. A growing body of scientific works indicates that women and girls have likely been underdiagnosed for decades. It is now understood to mean a condition where people have difficulty regulating their focus that can present in multiple ways. There are three main subtypes of ADHD. These types are inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and a combination presentation.
An inattentive presentation refers to someone who struggles with organization, ignoring distractions, and paying attention to details. Hyperactive-impulsive presentations are characterized by a restless demeanor, rash decision-making, and impatience. A combined presentation is a blend of the inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive presentations, where the person displays characteristics of both subtypes.
The implications of ADHD mean that people may struggle with school, work, relationships, and caring for their overall health. Many people with ADHD incur financial and mental costs associated with their inability to regulate where their attention is directed. In a product liability lawsuit, the damages they sustain can be compensated if the makers of the defective medication are found liable.
Medical Expenses Related to ADHD Can Cause Stress
The treatments for ADHD include medication, such as Adderall, and therapy. These costs can quickly accumulate, and many people with ADHD rely on treatment for the course of their lives. In addition to the cost of treating ADHD, it is important to account for the expenses associated with treating conditions that can develop in people with ADHD.
For example, the stress of managing ADHD, in addition to the burden of medical bills, can lead to other conditions like anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are also typically treated with medication and therapy, which causes the person to incur additional medical debt. This can quickly become an overwhelming cycle for people with ADHD.
ADHD Can Cause Performance Issues at Work and in School
People with ADHD may have difficulty meeting deadlines or prioritizing tasks, make careless mistakes, and become easily distracted or forget critical details. These skills are critical to success in most workplaces and in school. Students with ADHD may have trouble focusing on assigned tasks, neglect important details in their work, and ultimately fall behind even if they understand the material. This can negatively impact their self-confidence and college prospects, which in turn impacts their relationships and future career.
For many people, ADHD lasts into adulthood. Adults with ADHD may struggle to achieve promotions, reliably perform the duties of their job, or even hold a consistent job. In the long term, this can lead to self-esteem issues, a stunted career, and financial instability. If someone has been injured and they are prevented from continuing their career trajectory, they may be forced to settle for a lower-paying job. That can be compensated as reduced earning capacity in a product liability lawsuit.
ADHD Can Take a Toll on Mental Health
Beyond medical bills and reduced earning capacity, having ADHD can result in a variety of emotional and intangible costs, which can potentially be compensated as non-economic damages in a product liability lawsuit. Constantly having to resist your own mind's propensity for becoming distracted can be exhausting, and defeating when you fail to accomplish tasks you know that you are capable of doing.
This can result in a loss of quality of life. For example, consider a child with ADHD who has failed a class because they were unable to focus on the lesson or meet deadlines due to constant procrastination. As a result, they are held back a year. Now they have been alienated from their friends and forced to attempt the same tasks yet again. They develop self-esteem issues and start acting out in class and at home. This situation was likely preventable if negligence had not resulted in their ADHD in the first place.
Proving Liability in a Tylenol ADHD/Autism Lawsuit
The process of filing product liability claims is well underway as personal injury lawyers have sought leadership roles in the Tylenol ADHD/autism multidistrict litigation and have been appointed to coordinate their respective sides. Recently, the makers of acetaminophen drugs attempted to have a judge dismiss the product liability lawsuits brought against them based on the principle of preemption. They argue that the FDA’s authority should supersede that of state regulations, and the FDA did not require them to provide warning labels for their generic brand of acetaminophen.
This effort was thwarted by District Judge Denise Cote, who is presiding over the multidistrict litigation representing the Tylenol autism/ADHD lawsuits. She is supported by a special master, Randi S. Ellis. Walmart, a maker of generic acetaminophen, has since appealed that ruling. District Judge Cote has also approved the use of a short-form complaint as more plaintiffs join in filing Tylenol ADHD/autism lawsuits. This allows plaintiffs to present a more concise version of their case while filing a claim.
Seeking Compensation for Damages in a Tylenol ADHD Lawsuit
These are positive developments for plaintiffs, but they still bear the burden of proof in order to demonstrate that the defendants should be held liable. Plaintiffs will need to leverage evidence to show that makers of acetaminophen more likely than not failed in their duty to consumers to warn them of the increased risk of ADHD, which directly resulted in their injuries and damages.
To protect your right to pursue compensation, you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with mass tort product liability claims, as this requires a specialized skill set. Product liability attorneys can offer tailored legal advice, investigate your claim, represent you to bill collectors and insurance agents, as well as negotiate to maximize your compensation.