Tylenol and other drugs containing acetaminophen have been linked to an increased risk of developmental issues like autism and ADHD in children after they are taken during pregnancy. The many product liability lawsuits that have resulted from this revelation have seen another victory as presiding Judge Denise Cote has denied a defendant’s motion to dismiss the cases based on preemption.
This win represents another step forward in the process of holding defendants like Walmart in these Tylenol and other acetaminophen product lawsuits accountable. Preemption is a defense that can hinder many defective drug lawsuits. Understanding this defense and its ramifications is essential when undertaking litigation involving harmful drugs and other medical products.
Tylenol lawsuit lawyers are also integral to this process which is why you should consider contacting Dolman Law Group. Our defective drug lawyers are offering free consultations to those who believe their child has suffered developmental issues because of exposure to acetaminophen in utero.
What is Preemption?
While preemption is utilized as a defense in many product liability lawsuits involving medical products, preemption as a concept goes all the way back to the founding of our country. Article VI, Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution is commonly referred to as the Supremacy Clause and establishes that the federal constitution, and therefore federal law, takes precedence over state laws and constitutions.
This may seem far removed from lawsuits over Tylenol use during pregnancy but this policy of federal law holding greater authority over state law and effectively “preempting” it is integral. As a consequence of the Supremacy Clause, state laws cannot be made to conflict with federal laws that hold higher authority. In addition to this, individuals such as plaintiffs cannot ask state courts to enforce requirements that conflict with federal law.
Preemption Defense and Defective Drug Lawsuits
This preemption doctrine applies to defective drug lawsuits when it comes to the role the Food and Drug Administration plays in the approval of the drug in question. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a federal agency tasked with regulating and supervising the safety of food, drugs, and other pharmaceuticals.
Many defendants in defective drug lawsuits use preemption as a defense by arguing that they are not liable for any injuries that their product allegedly caused because they followed the requirements of the FDA which has federal authority that preempts state law.
For example, a defective drug lawsuit might end up being dismissed due to preemption if the defendant shows that the lack of warning on the product they are being sued for was ruled unnecessary by the FDA. A state court wouldn’t be able to penalize them because they followed the requirements of the FDA that preempt state laws.
So in rough summation, preemption in mass torts like class action defective drug lawsuits involves a drug manufacturer arguing they can’t be sued because they followed the requirements of the FDA which has federal authority that preempts state law that cannot contradict said federal authority.
Tylenol Lawsuits Overcome Preemption Defense
While preemption can be a potent defense in some cases, it is not infallible and can be overcome such as with the cases against Walmart over their Equate brand acetaminophen. The judge presiding over the Tylenol lawsuit multidistrict litigation (MDL) denied Walmart’s motion to dismiss based on preemption. Walmart argued that FDA regulations prohibited them from changing the labels on Equate and other generic Tylenol products.
The order (PDF) by Judge Denise Cote reasons that federal preemption is not applicable in these cases against Walmart since FDA labeling laws gave Walmart the opportunity to change the label on Equate pain reliever to warn against possible risks when the drug is taken during pregnancy. The Judge elaborated that the applicable federal labeling laws do not prevent a manufacturer from providing additional warnings regarding the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy to satisfy state laws.
Tylenol Use During Pregnancy Linked to Developmental Disorders Like Autism
Tylenol, otherwise known as acetaminophen, APAP, paracetamol, or N-acetyl-para-aminophenol, is a household analgesic often sold over the counter. As a common pain reliever, it sees widespread use and has largely been considered safe for use by pregnant women until new studies discovered a connection between the potential for developmental disruption of children in the womb when exposed to acetaminophen.
The potential for this disruption to cause developmental disorders have been considered substantial enough for many to take legal action. Developmental disorders can be debilitating to not only a person’s health but their ability to lead a normal life financially, socially, and emotionally.
Developmental Disorders That Can Be Caused by Prenatal Acetaminophen Exposure
The following are the health conditions that have been associated with prenatal exposure to acetaminophen via use during pregnancy.
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
- Neurodevelopmental problems later in life
- IQ level deficits
- Behavioral issues
- Sleep problems
- Early puberty in girls
- Male fertility problems
- Undescended testicles
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How a Product Liability Lawyer Can Help
Defense strategies like preemption are par for the course when it comes to filing a lawsuit over defective drugs. Defendants in these cases have the resources to hire exceptionally knowledgeable lawyers that can put strategies like preemption into action in order to prevent plaintiffs with valid claims from getting fair compensation.
The only way to meet these challenges is with the assistance of experienced defective drug lawyers of your own. A product liability attorney has the skills and connections essential to not only navigate around defenses like preemption but also assist you in building your case and maximize the amount of compensation you seek for damages caused by Tylenol. An experienced Tylenol autism attorney can give you valuable legal insight and advice on what options you have and take the reigns of your lawsuit while you focus on your family and personal affairs.
Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Tylenol Autism Lawsuit
Dolman Law Group is a personal injury law firm that provides award-winning legal representation to those harmed by defective medical products ranging from over-the-counter drugs to hip implants. Our Tylenol autism lawyers are currently taking clients with children that have developed health issues related to exposure to acetaminophen while in the womb.
The defective drug lawyers of Dolman Law emphasize diligence and a refusal to back down from the side of our clients. We understand the sensitivity of these cases and work closely with clients to ensure that their voice is heard.
Consider contacting Dolman Law Group and setting up a free consultation with our defective drug attorneys to learn how we can help you.