Defendants Launch Second Attempt to Dismiss Tylenol Autism Lawsuits

Defendants Launch Second Attempt to Dismiss Tylenol Autism Lawsuits

Children who were exposed to acetaminophen-based drugs like Tylenol while in the womb may be at a higher risk of developing chronic neurological conditions like autism and ADHD. Parents have filed Tylenol autism lawsuits in order to recover compensation for the financial, academic, professional, and health consequences of their child’s autism or ADHD diagnosis.  

Thus far, drug makers like Johnson & Johnson, along with major retailers like Walmart are facing numerous product liability lawsuits for their failure to warn pregnant women of the risk to their unborn children. The defendants argue that they should not be liable, as they met FDA standards for acetaminophen. These product liability lawsuits have already been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation, but plaintiffs still have the opportunity to join. You can contact our team to schedule a free consultation for help calculating what your damages may be worth in a Tylenol autism lawsuit.

Johnson & Johnson Argues Tylenol Autism Lawsuits Should be Dismissed

Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Tylenol, have filed a motion to dismiss the Tylenol autism lawsuits based on the preemption doctrine, which stems from the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution. Essentially, federal law trumps state law when they are in conflict. In the Tylenol autism cases, the defendants say that they followed FDA guidelines, so they should not be held liable for anything stipulated by state law.

Further, they argue that they did not have the authority to unilaterally modify the existing warning labels to reflect the growing concerns about prenatal exposure to acetaminophen. Other defendants like Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens support this agenda and filed a separate motion on behalf of the retailers named in the product liability lawsuits. 

Defendants also argue that the Master Complaint filed on behalf of the plaintiffs should be rejected for its failure to produce sufficient evidence of a causal relationship between prenatal acetaminophen exposure and ADHD or autism. New plaintiffs have already been allowed to file short-form complaints that rely on information from the master complaint, so this could have a disruptive impact if the presiding judge decides to grant the defendants’ motion to dismiss.

Prior Attempt at a Preemption Challenge Was Unsuccessful

This isn’t the first time that the defendants in the Tylenol autism lawsuits have tried to get these cases dismissed based on the preemption principle. Previously, Walmart requested the dismissal of the acetaminophen autism lawsuits by claiming that they should not be subject to any state laws that may require an additional warning pertaining to an increased risk of ADHD and autism, as they met the standards prescribed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Judge Denise Cote, who is in charge of managing the Tylenol autism multidistrict litigation, promptly rejected this motion. She elaborated that Walmart and other retailers were not strictly prohibited by the FDA from adding an additional warning label and that they were obligated to warn consumers of serious side effects associated with their products. Walmart has appealed this decision.

Whether or not Judge Cote decides to approve the defendants’ new motion to dismiss remains to be seen. Johnson & Johnson argues that she was not provided the proper context and relevant information in the original motion to dismiss brought by representatives for Walmart. Johnson & Johnson has requested an opportunity to provide oral arguments in favor of the most recent motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs have indicated they will participate in oral arguments if requested by the court, but are not asking for a hearing.

For decades, medical providers have advised pregnant women to use acetaminophen-based drugs like Tylenol for pain relief instead of other medications like ibuprofen. What was once thought to be the go-to pain relief for pregnant women appears to come with an increased risk of their children developing conditions like ADHD and autism. Some studies show that the child’s risk is increased by as much as 20% for autism and 30% for ADHD.

The basis of the Tylenol autism lawsuits is that the makers of acetaminophen did not provide warning labels alerting women to this risk. If drug makers and retailers who sell acetaminophen-based drugs had updated their warning labels, pregnant women would have been able to make an informed decision as to whether or not to use these products. In that case, they would have been able to avoid the extensive damages that may accompany an autism or ADHD diagnosis.

Plaintiffs in Tylenol Autism Lawsuits Seek Damages

Chronic conditions like autism and ADHD can cause long-term damages that impact both the child and their family. Over the course of their lifetime, a person with autism or ADHD may struggle with relationships, adapting to new environments, job performance, and academic achievement. While therapy and medication may be able to mitigate these issues to an extent, there is no cure for ADHD or autism.

Product liability lawsuits are a way for injured plaintiffs to recover compensation for these damages. Plaintiffs may be able to recover compensation for special damages, which have an established monetary value, as well as the more subjective general damages, which can provide financial relief for emotional losses.

Examples of Damages in a Tylenol Autism/ADHD Lawsuit:

  • Medical expenses
    • Medication
    • Therapy
  • Job-related losses
    • Lost wages
    • Reduced earning potential
    • Missed promotions
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life

Establishing Liability and Seeking Compensation in a Tylenol Autism Lawsuit

The process of evaluating the Tylenol autism product liability claims is well underway, as Judge Cote has already approved a leadership structure for the plaintiffs and defendants. Additionally, steps have already been taken to organize the process, such as the appointment of a Special Master to oversee a census of the plaintiffs’ claims. Once the discovery process and pre-trial tasks have been completed, the representatives for both sides will make their arguments.

Product liability lawsuits are based on a personal injury lawyer’s ability to convince fact-finders that their client’s claim is more likely than not legitimate and deserving of compensation. In order to prove that a defendant is liable, the product liability lawyer must show that the defendant violated their duty of care and that their negligent actions directly caused an injury that resulted in damages. They will rely on evidence like medical records, scientific studies, depositions, and expert witness testimony to build a persuasive case that holds negligent drug makers and retailers liable for damages.

With a lifetime of expenses to account for, maximizing your compensation is of the utmost importance. A product liability lawyer can offer you expert legal advice, access to critical resources, and their experience as a negotiator.


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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