Wisconsin couple files Zoloft wrongful death claim in Phila. federal court

A Wisconsin couple has filed a wrongful death complaint against drug giant Pfizer over

claims that the wife’s ingestion of the anti-depressant drug Zoloft during pregnancy led to the untimely death of the couple’s child.

Ryan and Justyne Eaton, of Winnebago County, WI, are suing Pfizer Inc., Pfizer International LLC and Greenstone LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer, over allegations that their daughter, Aubry, died on Jan. 6, 2010, the day she was born, as a result of birth defects caused by Justyne Eaton’s ingestion of Zoloft while she was pregnant with her child.

Aubry Eaton was born with severe birth defects three years ago, including significant malformations of the brain, hydrocephalus and pulmonary hypoplasia, all as a result of the woman taking Zoloft while she was pregnant with the fetus, the complaint alleges.

The lawsuit asserts that prior to Justyne Eaton becoming pregnant, the defendants knew or should have known that taking Zoloft or its generic equivalent, Sertraline, during pregnancy posed risks to the developing fetus because the drug crosses the placenta.

“Defendants failed to fully, truthfully, and accurately disclose Zoloft and/or Sertraline data to the FDA, the public, including Justyne Eaton, and the medical community, including Justyne Eaton’s physicians, and as a result negligently, intentionally, and fraudulently misled the medical community, physicians, including Justyne Eaton’s physicians, and the public, including Justyne Eaton, about the risks to a fetus caused by Zoloft and/or Sertraline exposure during pregnancy,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint was filed in the multi-district Zoloft Products Liability Litigation at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Jan. 3 by Kansas City, Mo. attorney Benjamin A. Bertram, of the firm Bertram & Graf LLC.

The civil action contains counts of strict product liability; negligence; negligent design; fraud, misrepresentation, and suppression; constructive fraud; breach of implied and express warranties; and gross negligence/malice.

The suit also contains counts of wrongful death, loss of consortium, pecuniary loss and alleged violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.

The plaintiffs seek actual damages, as well as general, economic and special damages, damages related to loss of earnings and impaired earning capacity, medical expenses, damages for mental and emotional distress, litigation costs, attorney’s fees, pre-and-post-judgment interest, punitive damages and exemplary damages.

In related news, the federal judge overseeing the Zoloft Products Liability Litigation, U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, who sits in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, issued a pretrial order Jan. 2, the day before this latest court filing, that gives the plaintiffs in any of the consolidated filings in the multi-district litigation 60 days from the date of her court order by which to file responsive pleadings to the master short-form answer by Pfizer and Greenstone.

The order applies to all actions either transferred to the Zoloft Products Liability Litigation from another federal jurisdiction, those originally filed in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, and those filed as “tag-along” actions transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.


The Eaton federal case number is 2:13-cv-00022-CMR.

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