Special Master Appointed to Manage Growing Tylenol Autism Lawsuit Census

The U.S. District Judge in charge of presiding over all federal lawsuits regarding the potential link between Tylenol and autism has appointed a special master to conduct a census to better understand how to efficiently manage claimant data and the discovery process as the number of claimants and lawsuits rapidly expand. These lawsuits concern the connection between taking Tylenol and other generic acetaminophen-based drugs during pregnancies and an increased number of cases of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other similar disorders in the children that were exposed as fetuses.

Thousands of lawsuits expected

The special master’s specific role is to centralize all claims made by families that were allegedly affected by the failure of Tylenol manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and sellers of generic acetaminophen-based alternatives, like Walmart, Costco, Walgreens, and others, to inform customers about the potential risks.

There are currently over 100 pending lawsuits being pursued. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality suggests that children exposed to acetaminophen in the womb may have an increased risk for ADHD and autism spectrum disorder (ADS). Similar studies, like the one published in May 2021 in the European Journal of Epidemiology, suggested that the chances of a child developing autism or ADHD increase by around 20% when the mother uses acetaminophen-based drugs during pregnancy.

Upcoming multidistrict litigation discovery plan

The appointed special master, Randi S. Ellis, will use the gathered information to potentially find bellwether cases, which are trials with contexts and details that represent a large number of other similar cases.

In conjunction with this appointment, the Court entered a stipulated order outlining phase-one discovery, which aims to establish protocols for the identification and production of relevant documentary evidence necessary to support scientific evidence that explores or identifies the potential link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and increased chances of ADS and ADHD in children.

Earlier in 2023, the multidistrict litigation (MDL) judge appointed in this case, Judge Denise Cote, made it easier for new plaintiffs to file lawsuits by approving the use of a Short Form Complaint, which allows them to reference the master complaint instead of making specific allegations. The ease with which new plaintiffs can now file Tylenol autism lawsuits will likely lead to large numbers of new lawsuits in the upcoming period.

Seek legal help

Thousands of parents across the country are coming to terms with the idea that a drug previously deemed safe during pregnancy may have caused significant harm to their sons and daughters by creating a condition that will require ongoing treatment and care during their lifetime. It’s important for these parents to know that they’re not alone and the injuries potentially caused to their children were neither a result of their actions nor a lack of care.

Although monetary compensation will do little to ease their suffering, it can help give their child the professional support they need to overcome these major challenges and send a message to larger companies that profit is not more important than the safety of children.

Parents of children who may have been affected by the mother taking acetaminophen-based drugs during pregnancy or while nursing should speak with a lawyer ready to provide support and seek justice for their children’s qualifying injuries.