A group of legal guardians of babies born addicted to opioids asked the federal judge overseeing the complex multidistrict litigation (MDL) against opioid companies to certify a class to provide medical monitoring for the babies who were “bathed in opioids” before they were born, Law360 reported.
The class would be for babies born to mothers who used opioids while pregnant, who suffered withdrawal symptoms after delivery, and were diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS.
Babies with NAS can experience withdrawal symptoms such as body shakes, seizures, fussiness or excessive crying, breathing problems and poor feeding. As the child gets older, they are at greater risk for developmental delays, motor problems, behavior and learning problems, speech and language problems, sleep problems, ear infections, and vision problems, according to the March of Dimes.
Attorneys representing the guardians of babies affected by NAS asked the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation to create a litigation track separate from the opioid MDL in which hundreds of local municipalities are suing opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies for creating and fueling a national opioid epidemic. The MDL seeks compensation for overdose deaths as well as economic damages to communities. But, the guardians said, the cities and counties cannot legally bring claims on behalf of the children suffering from NAS nor do they have a duty to care for them.
“It is our position that the critical needs of NAS children should not be subordinated to the less urgent desires of the cities and counties that have dominated this MDL,” they said.
The class seeks certification for legal guardians of U.S. residents who were born after March 16, 2000, who were diagnosed with NAS, and whose mothers were prescribed opioids while pregnant.
Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section are looking at cases of serious injuries and illness – including addiction and overdose – related to opioid use and abuse. For more information, contact Melissa Prickett or Liz Eiland.