The makers of over-the-counter acetaminophen drugs are being accused of negligence for failing to warn consumers of the risks associated with their medication in a series of product liability lawsuits. This scrutiny comes after studies emerged linking the use of the common pain-relief drug like Tylenol and other acetaminophen-containing medicines during pregnancy to the development of conditions like autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The thousands of claims have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation, which is done when plaintiffs with similar injuries caused by a common defendant consolidate their individual cases together to ease the burden on court resources. These claims are being heard in the Southern District Court of New York, with U.S. District Judge Denise Cote presiding.
If the parties cannot reach a settlement, Judge Cote can divide the MDL and redistribute the individual claims back to their original jurisdictions. The next step in the pre-trial process is for each side to reach a consensus about the structure of the representation to delegate tasks.
Tylenol Autism Lawyers Divide Responsibilities in Multi-District Litigation
In multi-district litigations, many pre-trial processes are overseen by delegations that operate on behalf of all plaintiffs. For example, in the Tylenol autism lawsuits, the discovery process and the bellwether claims will be managed by various committees of lawyers approved by District Judge Cote.
The discovery process will allow both sides to collect and vet evidence to support their case. Think of a bellwether claim as a test case to see how a jury may react before the entire claims process involving thousands of different plaintiffs' proceeds. In order to accomplish these tasks for the magnitude of claims involved, a division of labor is necessary.
Judge Agrees to Plaintiff’s Leadership Structure
To that end, each side proposed a leadership system for the Tylenol autism product liability lawsuits. In a court order, District Judge Cote authorized the proposed leadership structure for the plaintiffs in the Tylenol Autism lawsuit MDL. It includes both Lead counsel and Liaison counsel. Lead counsel will be responsible for presenting arguments on behalf of all plaintiffs named in the Tylenol autism lawsuits, as well as handling the discovery process, securing expert witnesses, and communicating with the opposing counsel.
Additionally, the structure includes a Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee and a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. Under these two committees, there will be at least five sub-committees. According to the court order issued by Judge Cote, these will include an Early Vetting/Bellwether Selection Committee, Science and Experts Committee, Discovery/ESI Committee, Law & Briefing Committee, and a Settlement/Lien Resolution Committee. November 14th, 2022 is the application deadline for lawyers who are interested in securing a leadership position in the plaintiff’s case. Individual plaintiffs will still need their own product liability lawyer to represent them to advocate for their personal damages.
Separate Court Order Approves Defendant’s Leadership Structure
Tylenol autism attorneys who are interested in joining the defendants will also have the opportunity to do so. District Judge Cote authorized the defendant’s leadership structure plan in another court order. The leadership structure for the defendant’s case is composed of a Retailer Liason Committee, although it stipulates that future amendments to this structure are not prohibited.
What Are the Tylenol Autism/ADHD Lawsuits?
Plaintiffs allege that makers of Tylenol and generic acetaminophen were negligent in their duty of care to warn them of the increased risk of conditions like Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder when used during pregnancy. Therefore, the families of children who have been diagnosed with these conditions believe that manufacturers and distributors should be held liable for costs like medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress.
These product liability lawsuits are currently targeting pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart. It is anticipated that claims will soon be brought against the manufacturers of Tylenol and generic acetaminophen, like Johnson & Johnson. These Tylenol autism lawsuits have the potential to have a widespread impact, as Tylenol has largely been considered the standard for over-the-counter pain relief.
Unfortunately, it appears that Tylenol and acetaminophen are not without significant risks when used during pregnancy. We are still in the early stages of the claims process, but settlements for autism caused by Tylenol usage are estimated to be very substantial in value, as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD are both life-long conditions that can impact overall health and quality of life.
Acetomeniphin Use During Pregnancy Linked to Autism and ADHD
In the past doctors have recommended the use of acetaminophen-based drugs for pain relief instead of ibuprofen drugs like Advil because they were ostensibly more safe for pregnant women. However, it is becoming clear that Tylenol is not as innocuous as previously believed by the medical community.
The basis for these product liability lawsuits rests on research that has found a link between the consistent or significant use of acetaminophen and Tylenol during pregnancy and the diagnosis of developmental disorders such as autism or ADHD in the resulting child.
Disorders and Health Issues Related to Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder caused by differences in the brain that can lead to issues with social interaction, communication, repetitive behaviors, and attention problems. ADHD is also a developmental disorder characterized by impulsiveness, attention difficulties, and overactivity. These are the two most common issues that are part of the lawsuits over Tylenol developmental disorders but other potential issues caused in utero acetaminophen exposure include:
- Neurodevelopmental problems later in life
- IQ level deficits
- Behavioral issues
- Sleep problems
- Early puberty in girls
- Male fertility problems
- Undescended testicles
Researchers studied data from 73,881 mother-child pairs and found evidence of a causal relationship between acetaminophenn usage during pregnancy and increased rates of ASD and ADHD.
In fact, their results demonstrated that children who were exposed to acetaminophen in utero were about 20% more likely to develop ASD or ADHD compared to the control group. Additional studies conducted by highly-reputable institutions, like Yale University and Johns Hopkins University, have added to this growing consensus.