Once the statute of limitations (SOL) expires, victims usually cannot file a Tylenol claim or other claim to recover compensation for their injuries. Basically, once the statute of limitations runs, victims lose their right to file legal claims. In most personal injury cases, like car crashes, falls, and dangerous medication side effects, the SOL is usually two years.

Overall, the law protects everyone. So does the SOL. Victims with solid claims should strike while the iron is hot. Contrarily, tortfeasors (negligent actors) shouldn’t have to keep looking over their shoulders.

The discovery rule, which extends the statute of limitations and is examined below, is one of the primary exceptions to this rule. This concept goes back to the Middle Ages and English common law. American courts officially adopted the discovery rule in the 1930s. Tylenol and similar products appeared on store shelves about that same time.

Then as now, no one was sure how acetaminophen and other analgesic pain relievers work. Many researchers believe this drug reduces the number of cyclooxygenases (COX) in the brain and blocks pain transmissions in the nerves. Researchers are even less sure how acetaminophen reduces fever in children.

Similarly, no one is sure why Tylenol elevates the risk of autism and ADHD. The link may involve reduced COX production. Sometimes, chemical changes in the brain have unintended effects. However, a 2014 study concluded that “acetaminophen use during pregnancy” increases the risk of “ADHD-like behaviors in children.”

Unfortunately, retail pharmacies didn’t always pass this information along to consumers. Therefore, lawyers became involved.

Procedural Hurdles in a Tylenol Claim

The SOL is one of the main procedural hurdles a Tylenol/autism/ADHD lawyer may need to overcome to present a claim in court. Jurisdiction and lack of evidence are the two other significant obstacles.

Currently, major retail pharmacies, like Walmart and Safeway, are the defendants in the Tylenol claim. Walmart’s headquarters are in Arkansas, and Safeway’s headquarters are in California. The federal courts only have jurisdiction (a judge’s legal ability to hear and resolve a dispute) over litigants from different states. Therefore, federal judges in California and Arkansas cannot preside over a Tylenol case from a family in California or Arkansas.

To address this potential problem, authorities have grouped all Tylenol claims together in a single New York federal court, at least for pretrial purposes. When victims file these claims, local judges immediately send them to New York with no questions asked. Judge Denise Cote has special jurisdictional power to preside over all these claims.

Cote is overseeing the pretrial process. She’s already heard arguments on one motion, and she’ll probably rule on other motions as well. Meanwhile, Cote is also supervising discovery, which is an information exchange process between the parties. Later, she’ll oversee settlement negotiations.

Specifically, the aforementioned motion concerns the preemption doctrine, an obscure legal rule. In general, most pretrial motions argue that the victim/plaintiff doesn’t have enough evidence to support their claims. So, unless a case has lots of credible proof, the victim may never get their day in court.

Equitable Tolling in Civil Claims

Basically, equitable (fair) tolling is like a snooze bar on the SOL alarm clock. If someone, let’s call her Samantha, breaks her leg in a car crash, there’s no reason for her to delay legal action and no reason for her to use the snooze bar.

But if Samantha takes Tylenol during pregnancy and her daughter develops a mental disability, she might not know about her daughter’s injury for many years. Especially among infants, doctors have a hard time determining if a symptom like echolalia (repetition of certain words and phrases) is a sign of autism or if it’s “just a phase.”

So, to ensure that such victims have their day in court, the law gives them more time to file their claims. Usually, victims only have a duty to file legal actions after they:

  • Know the full extent of their damages, and

  • Connect those damages to a tortfeasor’s conduct or misconduct.

Other equitable tolling rules include the plaintiff’s age and financial status. People under 18 cannot file legal actions. So, minors may usually file injury claims until they reach age 20 (two years after they turn 18). Bankruptcy’s Automatic Stay suspends most civil actions until a judge closes that bankruptcy.

The Nuts and Bolts of a Tylenol Lawsuit

Once a Tylenol/autism/ADHD lawyer clears these procedural hurdles, the focus shifts to the claim’s merits. Generally, a victim/plaintiff must prove a lack of care (negligence) by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).

Most brick-and-mortar retailers have a duty of care to protect their customers. This legal responsibility includes a requirement to warn them about known product dangers.

Breach is the second element of a negligence case. A one-time failure to warn probably isn’t a breach of care. But repeated failure to warn and/or a failure to add an extra warning label is a breach of care.

As for the next element, cause, there’s plenty of evidence supporting the Tylenol consumption and autism/ADHD link. True, most of these studies include a “more research is needed” disclaimer. But even with these disclaimers, these studies usually are more than enough to prove a link by a preponderance of the evidence.

Mental disorders, like ADHD and autism, cause significant damages, which is the final element of a negligence case. These damages usually include medical bills, like medication and therapy costs, as well as future lost income. Although anti-discrimination laws exist, people with mental disorders often have a hard time finding and keeping good jobs. These victims may receive compensation for their emotional distress and other noneconomic damages.

If you or someone you know has been injured by taking Tylenol, it is important to understand all the legal implications of your claim. Contact a qualified attorney today to discuss your potential Tylenol lawsuit and protect your legal rights.