Court Prevents Plaintiff’s Expert from Testifying in Case Against Drug Manufacturer

Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a product liability case brought against the manufacturer of Zoloft, alleging that the medication causes birth defects. The court’s decision reviewed a lower court’s decision to prevent the plaintiffs’ expert witness from testifying. Ultimately, the court concluded that the lower court was proper to not allow the expert’s testimony.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were a class of people who collectively claimed that the medication Zoloft caused birth defects when taken early in a pregnancy. In order to establish their claim, the plaintiffs planned on presenting several witnesses to show that the ingestion of Zoloft actually caused the birth defects in their children. However, the court prevented one of the key witnesses from testifying, based on the novel method the expert used in arriving at her conclusion.

The plaintiffs then tried calling another witness in place of the one who was prevented from testifying. The drug manufacturer objected to this witness as well, and the court conducted a hearing to determine whether the expert’s testimony would be admissible.

During the hearing, the expert explained that he relied on five studies that linked Zoloft use to cardiac defects in children. The Court, however, took issue with the studies, noting that several of them came from the same rather small sample size. The remaining studies, the court explained, seemed to be contradictory to a larger study that took into account the studies cited by the expert. The court concluded that the results of the study were statistically insignificant and therefore could not be presented to the jury.  The plaintiffs appealed.

The court began its analysis by explaining that a trial court acts as a “gatekeeper,” determining which evidence should properly be considered by the jury. Here, the court explained, the method the expert used to form his opinion was proper; however, he failed to consistently apply that method, resulting in unreliable findings. Ultimately, the court determined that the lower court was within its broad discretion to reject the expert’s testimony.

Pharmacy Error Lawsuits and Expert Witnesses

Prescription medications are powerful substances that can present serious health risks if not taken properly, or if taken by the wrong population. When a pharmacist provides a patient with the wrong medication, the wrong dosage, or the wrong instructions, the pharmacist may be liable for any injuries that result from their error. In most cases in which a plaintiff is claiming that a medication caused a certain reaction, there must be some testimony establishing the link between the plaintiff’s ingestion of the medication and their symptoms. This link is called causation, and it is a required element of almost all pharmacy error cases.

Have You Been a Victim of a Pharmacy Error?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a pharmacy error, or you have developed serious symptoms after taking prescribed medication, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a pharmacy error lawsuit. The attorneys at the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience representing clients in a wide range of pharmacy error and product liability lawsuits. Call 410-654-3600 today to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated pharmacy error attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Pharmacy Error Rates May Be Artificially Low Due to a Lack of Mandatory Reporting Requirements, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, June 29, 2017.

Adverse Reactions to Prescription Medication, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, June 8, 2017.

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