HUNTINGTON -– A federal judge has remanded 18 cases filed by minors who claim they suffered birth defects as a result of their mothers’ use of Pfizer’s prescription drug Zoloft.
U.S. District Judge Robert C. “Chuck” Chambers ruled Tuesday that the cases must be heard in Wayne County Circuit Court, where they were first filed in July. The plaintiffs come from 16 different states, including West Virginia.
Pfizer wanted the cases transferred to a multidistrict litigation proceeding in Pennsylvania. Chambers wrote that the existence of an MDL did not undermine his ability to consider a remand motion.
“Defendants have not met their burden of demonstrating that Plaintiffs’ claims were not properly joined because of case processing practices in Wayne County Circuit Court,” he wrote.
The case began as a single complaint in Wayne County, which gave the 19 plaintiffs 19 different case numbers. All but one were removed to federal court by Pfizer.
Pfizer argued that because the Wayne court separated the cases, the claims are not properly joined. And without proper joinder, it argued, the 18 plaintiffs are completely diverse from all defendants and subject to federal jurisdiction.
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