A Kentucky couple has filed a lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline alleging that the anti-nausea medication Zofran caused their daughter to be born with severe congenital heart defects that led to her death.
Free Zofran Lawsuit Evaluation: If your child was born with a heart defect, cleft palate/lip, clubfoot or other birth defect, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the manufacturer and our lawyers can help.
What’s the problem?
According to the lawsuit, plaintiff was prescribed Zofran to treat morning sickness during her first trimester of pregnancy (a time when the fetus’ heart is developing). The mother was given a pamphlet to read which discussed Zofran’s potential risks and benefits. The pamphlet, authored by First Databank, never mentioned the potential for birth defects with Zofran, according to the lawsuit.
Before the couple’s daughter was born, an ultrasound indicated that she had developed severe caudal regression, a condition that occurs when the lower portion of the spine develops abnormally. The baby was born on Jan. 15, 2014, and subsequently diagnosed with the following defects:
- Renal Agenesis – Condition in which the baby is missing one or both kidneys.
- Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) – A “hole in the heart” which occurs in the wall that separates the organ’s lower chambers (septum) and allows blood to pass from the left to the right side of the heart.
- Truncus Arteriosus – Rare congenital heart disease in which a single blood vessel comes out of the right and left ventricles, instead of the normal 2 vessels (pulmonary artery and aorta).
At the age of just 7 weeks, the baby was forced to undergo open-heart surgery. At first, she developed a buildup of fluid around her heart (pericardial effusion); however, after the surgery she seemed to be “progressing well,” according to the lawsuit.
A month later while at home, the infant began to vomit bile, so her mother took her to the pediatrician. Plaintiff alleges that the baby was pale and lethargic, but the doctor seemed unconcerned, dismissing the mother’s claims as “panicky.”
The pediatrician went on to prescribe the baby Zofran to stop the vomiting, which marks the first case of post-birth exposure alleged in the growing litigation. The mother was understandably concerned because she was told her daughter shouldn’t take certain types of medication. The doctor reassured her that it was safe for the baby to take Zofran, and her mother gave her a dose that night.
The following morning, plaintiff claims her daughter became increasingly lethargic. She was unable to reach the pediatrician by phone and received no return call, so she called the family’s pediatric cardiologist who instructed her to take the baby to a hospital emergency room immediately.
However, as the mother was buckling her baby into the carseat to make the drive, the infant “stopped breathing and died,” according to the lawsuit. The autopsy indicated that the baby died from cardiopulmonary arrest due to her heart defects, and that Zofran may have “contributed to her death.”
The complaint was filed August 5 in the Pike County Circuit Court for the Commonwealth of Kentucky under case number 15-CI-784. Defendants include GSK, plaintiffs’ pediatrician / medical practice, 2 generic drug manufacturers and First Databank, publisher of the Zofran pamphlets given to the plaintiff.
GSK Says ‘Fraudulent Misjoinder’ Means Lawsuit Should be Split Up
GSK wanted the lawsuit transferred to Federal Court in Boston, where the Zofran multidistrict litigation (MDL) is currently underway. The drugmaker argued that the suit’s other defendants had been ‘fraudulently misjoined’ to the complaint.
Legally, this is a matter of which court, state or federal, that hears the case. GSK argued that the couple filed their complaint against multiple citizens of Kentucky to prevent the suit from being sent to the MDL in Massachusetts. This technically constitutes fraudulent misjoinder, but for the legal theory to hold water in this case, there can’t be any logical relation between plaintiff’s claim against GSK and its claims against the other defendants.
If it was up to GSK, the complaint would be divided into multiple legal actions, only one of which would name the drugmaker itself as a defendant. That lawsuit could be transferred to the MDL in Boston, while the allegations against the family’s doctor would be decided in Kentucky State Court.
Judge Says GSK Will Have to Fight in Massachusetts, Kentucky
On Dec. 9, Judge Amul R. Thapar remanded the case from Massachusetts to a State Court in Kentucky. Thapar stated that the claims are logically related, and that the couple’s allegations all arise from their son’s death, regardless of which defendant particular allegations implicate. Second, a common question of fact is essential to the couple’s allegations against every defendant: did Zofran or its generic equivalent ondansetron cause the child’s death? Thus, Thapar decided fraudulent misjoinder is invalid in this case.
Do I Have a Zofran Lawsuit?
The Product Liability & Defective Drug Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Zofran lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new birth defects cases in all 50 states.
Free Confidential Case Evaluation: Again, if your child or other loved one was injured by Zofran side effects, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.