Attorneys call for separate litigation track for ‘opioid babies’ in nationwide MDL

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by Jim Orr

Attorneys representing babies whose mothers used prescription painkillers during pregnancy have asked the judge overseeing the nationwide opioids multidistrict litigation (MDL) to create a separate litigation track for these cases. The attorneys say that the separate track in the opioids MDL is necessary in order to allow them to present separate legal theories and address the distinct medical costs involving these “opioid babies.”

In December 2017, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated 180 lawsuits that were filed nationwide against opioid manufacturers and distributors in a nationwide MDL. These lawsuits – filed mostly by both state or local governments – allege that opioid manufacturers understated the dangers of prescription painkillers while simultaneously overstating their benefits. Lawsuits have also been filed against opioid distributors alleging that they failed to monitor suspicious behavior involving opioids and to report this behavior to authorities.

The attorneys who filed the recent motion in the opioids MDL represent babies who were born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS is a condition that can occur when mothers abuse opioid painkillers during pregnancy. Symptoms of NAS may include low birth weight, seizure or other short-term withdrawal symptoms, and long-term cognitive problems. NAS has become far more common during the nationwide opioid epidemic over the last 20 years, with tens of thousands of babies being born with the condition annually.

In their filing with the nationwide opioid MDL, attorneys representing babies born with NAS argued that a separate litigation track should be created for these cases because of the distinct costs and legal issues associated with this condition. The filing cited multiple examples of unique medical issues associated with NAS in support of its argument for a separate litigation track in the MDL.

According to the filing, babies born with NAS spend an average of 16 days in the hospital after birth. The filing also stated that the average hospital cost for a baby born with NAS is $159,000-$238,000, far more than the hospital costs for a healthy newborn.

Attorneys for the opioid babies who were born with NAS also called for the creation of a special fund to treat and research the condition. The attorneys also called for special compensation for babies born with NAS should the court grant their motion for a separate litigation track.

Lawsuits Filed on Behalf of Opioid Overdose Victims

If you have lost a loved one to an opioid overdose, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the drug, the doctor or hospital that prescribed it, opioid distributors, or the pharmacy that issued the prescription. The first step in taking legal action is to consult with an attorney who can advise you regarding your legal rights and guide you through the first steps of filing a case.

The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has filed lawsuits on behalf of families who have lost a loved one to an opioid overdose. Our firm has represented hundreds of patients who suffered overdoses caused by opioid painkiller prescriptions, including cases involving the drugs fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, and hydromorphone.

For more information about filing an opioid lawsuit and to find out whether you may qualify to file a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions about to get started.