On August 12, Pennsylvania federal judge Cynthia Rufe issued an opinion excluding in part the testimony of the three remaining plaintiff general causation expert witnesses, designated in an ongoing multidistrict litigation alleging that Pfizer Inc.’s antidepressant Zoloft increases the risk for birth defects.
This latest Daubert ruling comes on the heels of the court’s June 27th, 2014 opinion excluding plaintiff’s general causation epidemiology expert, Dr. Anick Berard. In that opinion, Judge Rufe held that, “Dr. Berard takes a position in this litigation which is contrary to the opinion she has expressed to her peers in the past, relies upon research which her peers do not recognize as supportive of her litigation opinion, and uses principles and methods which are not recognized by the relevant scientific community and are not subject to scientific verification.”
While this latest opinion permits the three experts to testify as to “plausible biological mechanisms,” relying on animal and in vitro studies, it does not permit these experts to opine that ”Zoloft, when used by pregnant women at conventional doses, causes an increased risk of congenital malformations in human babies.” The opinion further notes that plaintiffs’ expert opinions about human causation “require speculative leaps which are unacceptable in science and in the courthouse.”
The Kaye Scholer litigation team was led by IADC member Pamela J. Yates, Bert L. Slonim, and Aaron H. Levine. Co-counsel for Pfizer included Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP and Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP.