Judge Rules Kenvue Cannot File Immediate Appeal to Drop Tylenol Autism Lawsuits

Judge Rules Kenvue Cannot File Immediate Appeal to Drop Tylenol Autism Lawsuits

Makers of acetaminophen-based pain-relief drugs, including retailers and manufacturers, are being accused of failing to warn parents and the medical community that children who are exposed to these types of medications while in utero are at a greater risk of having autism and ADHD. This has since become a mass tort issue, with hundreds of plaintiffs filing product liability lawsuits under the Tylenol autism multidistrict litigation which is being handled by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote.

Recent efforts by Tylenol autism defendants to have the product liability lawsuits against them dismissed have been unsuccessful, and now their request to appeal Judge Cote’s decision has been denied, as expected. As the Tylenol autism lawsuits progress, more plaintiffs will likely join the multidistrict litigation. Families who are interested in pursuing compensation for medical bills, reduced earning potential, loss of quality of life, and other damages should seek out a Tylenol autism lawyer to represent their claim.

Johnson & Johnson’s Spin-Off Company Prevented From Appealing Ruling to a Higher Court 

In February 2023, representatives for Tylenol manufacturers Johnson & Johnson filed a motion to dismiss with District Judge Cote in hopes that she would rule that the plaintiffs did not have the ground to pursue product liability lawsuits against them based on their failure to warn. This argument was rejected, and the attorneys for Johnson & Johnson filed a request seeking approval to appeal Judge Cote’s ruling to a higher court. 

Unsurprisingly, District Judge Cote has denied Kenvue Inc, whose parent company was Johnson & Johnson, permission to seek an interlocutory appeal of her decision with a higher court. An interlocutory appeal would have had the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rule immediately on whether or not Judge Cote’s decision to reject the preemption arguments should stand, while simultaneously allowing the proceedings to continue.

Judge Cote’s explanation for her decision was that representatives for Johnson & Johnson did not provide sufficient evidence to justify her allowing them to seek an appeal of her ruling prior to any final judgments being made in the multidistrict litigation (MDL). The next step in the MDL will be for plaintiffs and defendants to submit motions for the experts they want to include.

The History of Tylenol Autism Defendant’s Failed Preemption Challenges

If the Tylenol autism lawsuits proceed and makers like Johnson & Johnson are found liable, they could be forced to settle for a substantial sum and damage their reputation among consumers. In effect, the defendants have been highly motivated to get the Tylenol autism lawsuits filed against them dismissed, especially as the number of claims grows. There have been multiple attempts to do so, all of which have been rejected by District Judge Cote.

First, Walmart, which sells its own generic brand of acetaminophen Equate, filed a motion to dismiss the claims based on the principle of preemption. A preemption argument is founded on the idea that federal laws outweigh state laws. Representatives for Walmart argued that they met federal regulations from the FDA for warning labels, so they cannot be held liable for failure to warn consumers because they did not necessarily follow state standards. Judge Cote rejected this argument and allowed the claims to proceed.

Representatives for Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Tylenol, also tried to make an argument based on preemption. They claimed that Judge Cote had not received the full context in the previous motion, and that they had been prevented from adding to their warning labels. Judge Cote also rejected this motion to dismiss the claims because she believed that defendants like Johnson & Johnson did in fact have the authority to modify their warning labels. This set the stage for the most recent rejection by Judge Cote.

Parents Seek Compensation For Developmental Disorders in Tylenol Autism MDL 

Acetaminophen-based pain-relief drugs have long been considered the safe option for pregnant women experiencing minor pains or headaches. However, emerging research has called into question if these products are safe for children in utero. For example, a group of researchers from Johns Hopkins reviewed acetaminophen levels in the umbilical cords of babies in the Boston Birth Cohort. They found children with the highest levels of acetaminophen exposure were 20% more likely to be diagnosed with autism and 30% more likely to have ADHD. 

European researchers have drawn similar conclusions based on a meta-analysis of multiple studies that investigated the association between prenatal exposure to acetaminophen and autism or ADHD. Some medical professionals are now recommending a more cautious approach to using acetaminophen-based drugs during pregnancy, but the products’ warning labels have yet to be updated. Based on these findings, parents of children with autism and ADHD whose mothers took acetaminophen while pregnant are demanding accountability from the drug manufacturers.

Plaintiffs have accused drug manufacturers of being negligent for not providing a warning label alerting them of the increased risk of these neurodevelopmental conditions. When asked by Judge Cote to provide an example of what the labels should have included, plaintiffs were able to easily provide alternative text, supporting their argument that drug manufacturers failed to take simple steps to warn consumers. There are now over 200 product liability lawsuits filed against acetaminophen makers, which have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation in the Southern District of New York.

Contact an Experienced Product Liability Injury Attorney About Your Tylenol Autism Lawsuit

With Judge Cote’s rejection of Kenvue’s request to appeal, the Tylenol autism lawsuits continue on the path to seek fair compensation. Judge Cote has made multiple administrative decisions that have helped to expedite the process, such as appointing a Special Master to conduct a census of the claims. She has also allowed plaintiffs to submit short-form complaints to streamline the process. Finally, Judge Cote has requested that plaintiffs provide fact sheets to collect the relevant information about each case.

Critical decisions about what expert testimony is allowed and what evidence can be presented are imminent in the Tylenol autism multidistrict litigation. Plaintiffs who believe that their child’s autism or ADHD was caused by prenatal exposure to acetaminophen should not wait to directly file a product liability lawsuit. You may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and other damages related to an ADHD or autism diagnosis.

Although the claims have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation, plaintiffs still benefit from hiring their own Tylenol autism attorney. Their product liability expertise will be essential when facing the legal teams of wealthy companies like Johnson & Johnson. Product liability lawyers will review your case, compile evidence to support your claims, detail your damages, and negotiate to maximize your compensation for your Tylenol autism lawsuit.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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