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Three dozen plaintiffs file another suit over Depakote; Cases mounting in So. District of Illinois

By Bethany Krajelis | May 2, 2013

Three dozen minors on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit over a drug their mothers took while pregnant.

The plaintiffs brought their complaint against Abbott Laboratories Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois and claim they suffered injuries as a result of their mothers’ ingestion of Depakote, an anti-epileptic drug that Abbott made, sold and distributed.

The drug, which was also sold under the names Depakote ER, Depakene and Depacon, “defectively designed, inadequately tested, dangerous to human health and unborn, and lacked proper warnings as to the true danger associated with its use,” the suit asserts.

Electronic court records show that there are more than a dozen suits over the drug against Abbott pending in southern Illinois’ federal court, several of which originated in St. Clair County Circuit Court and involve multiple plaintiffs.

While it appears that none of the three dozen plaintiffs who filed the suit this week reside in Illinois, they assert that Illinois’ federal court has jurisdiction because Abbott is based in Illinois, diversity of citizenship exists between the parties and the matter in controversy exceeds $75,000.

According to the complaint, “the primary compound in Depakote – valproic acid – has been established to cause severe birth defects if taken during the first trimester of pregnancy.”

The plaintiffs allege that their mothers’ ingestion of Depakote resulted in them being born with “spina bifida, heart defects and neural tube defects, among other congenital malformations and birth defects.”

Claiming that Abbott knew or should have known and warned about the dangers of the drug, the plaintiffs claim they have suffered permanent injuries, physical and mental pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of future capacity earnings and have incurred substantial medical costs.

The complaint was submitted by several out-of-state attorneys, as well as Belleville attorney Christopher Cueto, who has filed other Depakote suits. Records list Texas attorney Kenneth Fibich as the lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

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