How Zofran Victims Are Fighting for Justice

Published on June 10, 2015 by

When companies like GlaxoSmithKline manufacture, distribute and market products that cause harm, injured victims and their families can take the claim to the court system for recourse.

A hurt person can bring an action known as a tort to obtain compensation for damages. A tort is a type of civil action, as opposed to a criminal action. The person who sues is known as the plaintiff, and the company or person being sued is known as the defendant. In general, for a tort to succeed, three basic things must be true.

  1. First of all, someone suffered an injury that led to costs. For instance, if a mother had to be hospitalized for ventricular fibrillation, or a baby was born with a malformed kidney, the court would definitely consider the victim “injured.”
  2. Some person or entity (like a company, such as GlaxoSmithKline) directly or indirectly caused that injury as a result of negligence, carelessness or other wrongdoing.
  3. The entity responsible has money to pay for the damages. A source of funds is importance. By contrast, imagine a situation in which a drunk driver with no insurance or assets causes a serious car wreck. A lawsuit might not be feasible, if the driver has no way to provide any compensation. In Zofran cases, however, this last constraint is not a problem, considering that GlaxoSmithKline has many billions of dollars.

When a lot of different people suffer similar harm from similar causes, they can combine their torts into what’s known as a mass tort. These plaintiffs can combine forces to sue one or several defendants. To pursue a mass tort action, plaintiffs have to ask the court for permission. The court will decide based on factors like:

  • How many plaintiffs got hurt;
  • Where the plaintiffs live (are they close to each other or far apart?);
  • The nature of the injures (are they similar or not?);
  • Whether a single cause or set of causes was likely responsible for the damages.

Mass torts are not the same thing as class action lawsuits. Both legal processes bundle similar cases together for the purposes of expediency (so the court can speed things up) and to make sure that results don’t vary wildly.

In a mass tort, you can have a trial that’s separate from other plaintiffs’ trials. In a class action, the court treats you and other plaintiffs essentially as a single group, and a single trial determines the outcome. From the perspective of a plaintiff, mass torts offer some advantages. For instance, statistically speaking, you have a greater potential for large compensation. Defendants and their attorneys can also share resources and insights.

Mass torts can also evolve into a suite of lawsuits known as Multi District Litigation or MDL, in which different suits are organized to go before one judge and one jurisdiction.

Mass torts can get quite complicated, both because of all the legal “moving parts” and because of the high stakes involved. Liable defendants often stand to lose millions of dollars -- in some cases, billions of dollars. As a result, defendants generally have both the motivation and the means to go to great lengths to discredit the plaintiffs’ cases.

To fight back, plaintiffs and their attorneys must be meticulous, prepared, resilient, and strategic. You may have compelling science on your side and a tragic, heart wrenching story. But do not expect the defendant to admit fault.

So what can you do to prepare yourself and your family for the road ahead? We will discuss this in our next blog.

To explore the possibility of bringing legal action right away to obtain compensation for Zofran-related birth defects, please call the experienced attorneys here at Marc Whitehead & Associates, LLP at (855)-423-3666. For more information regarding Zofran please download a copy of our free E-book, The Zofran Tragedy.