With its generic name being acetaminophen, Tylenol is an over-the-counter drug used to treat mild to moderate aches. These may include menstrual cramps, headaches or backaches, osteoarthritis pain, etc.
Across the US, this drug manufactured originally by McNeil Laboratories in 1955, is among the largest-selling healthcare products worldwide. It may be easily found in every US household with no need for a prescription.
However, as they say that all good things must come to an end, Tylenol’s good reputation was short-lived. Even though it enjoyed a solid market share for decades, there have been recent allegations against the manufacturer regarding pregnancy-related complications.
Matters have turned into a heated legal war. In this article, we will discuss the Tylenol litigation in detail and explore where it is headed in 2024.
The Tylenol autism lawsuit is mainly filed by women who consumed the drug during pregnancy. Many gave birth to children who were later diagnosed with life-altering conditions like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Once over 10 cases were filed in the litigation, the plaintiff’s counsel fought for case consolidation into a class-action multi-district litigation (MDL) in August 2022. It was asserted that the number of cases was enough to justify an MDL for a fair resolution.
In September 2022, oral arguments took place between both parties when case numbers had crossed 87. Finally, the judge’s decision was made in the plaintiffs’ favor as a new class-action MDL (3043) was formed in October 2022.
Soon after MDL 3043 was formed, Wal-Mart (one of the defendants) attempted to dismiss the Tylenol class-action MDL based on Federal preemption. The company excused its lack of adequate warnings by stating that the same was regulated by the FDA.
The plaintiffs argued that the Federal laws did allow Wal-Mart to voluntarily change the labels to add sufficient warnings. Thankfully, Wal-Mart’s motion proved to be unsuccessful in court.
Meanwhile, lawyers started speculating about the connection between Tylenol and conditions like Kanner’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Asperger’s syndrome.
By January 2023, the litigation had made significant developments, and the judge had outlined the discovery plan for the MDL. At the same time, case numbers increased as more and more plaintiffs filed lawsuits. Wal-Mart made more attempts to halt the litigation’s progress but to no avail.
The judge even asked Tylenol manufacturers to issue adequate warning labels. As per the plaintiff’s counsel, pregnant women should consume the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time and the lowest frequency. Two other preemption motions by the defendants were declined.
Even the plaintiff’s fact sheet was approved, but the main roadblock happened during the expert discovery stage in the form of a Daubert challenge. This issue happens during or before litigation when an effort is made to exclude an expert testimony.
This may have to do with the fact that Tylenol’s connection with autism is a bit weaker compared to ADHD. During the Daubert hearing, both parties had to examine the premise of the expert witness in question and develop their case for permitting/not permitting admissibility.
The same took place in early December 2023. However, the outcome does not look so favorable for the plaintiffs. The concerns after the Daubert hearing are greater in autism-related Tylenol lawsuits.
Though the hearing may not have leaned in favor of the plaintiffs, all is not lost. TorHoerman Law notes that attorneys are still hoping for positive outcomes in the upcoming months, given the litigation’s steady progression. Since no Bellwether trials have been held, it is difficult to establish a definite settlement amount for the litigation.
However, an average case payout would range between $50,000 and $300,000+. These are estimates based on a previous mass tort litigation of a similar nature. Individual payouts will depend upon the case’s strength, the severity of injuries, emotional suffering, quality of life impacted, etc.
Based on the outcome of the Daubert hearing, it is safe to assume that the court will ask both parties to prepare for Bellwether trials. Once the case selection process begins for the discovery pool, tentative trial dates will be disclosed. To conclude, it can be said that it may take a year or so before individual settlements are made. The plaintiff’s legal team is expecting the MDL to close by the end of 2024. If the verdict is in favor of the plaintiffs, Tylenol manufacturers will have to issue new warning labels to protect unborn children.