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Frequent readers of this blog will be aware of the litigation against Bayer/Johnson & Johnson regarding their drug Xarelto. The cases are consolidated in federal court as Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), and the presiding judge is moving proceedings along.

Summer 2015 Update

Over the past few years, product liability suits against the makers and marketers of the drug Xarelto, Bayer/Johnson & Johnson, have been cropping up across the country. The suits are mostly filed in federal court, meaning the parties consolidated them as an MDL. Judge Eldon Fallon is the sole judge presiding over the MDL, giving him the ability to make all pretrial rulings. This is the great thing about an MDL; when many different cases are consolidated, the parties can avoid doing the same discovery over and over again, while getting consistent rulings from a single judge.xarelto

Judge Fallon has made an important ruling, proposing that fifty plaintiffs be selected for a bellwether trial “pool.” These cases will go through plaintiff-specific discovery and then a series of trials to help the parties get a feel for how their cases will play out. Judge Fallon issued a discovery and trial schedule, which called for the first trial regarding Xarelto to begin on August 1 of next year. Three more trials will (hopefully) then take place over the following September. Judge Fallon recommended that the first two trials take place in his district, the Eastern District of Louisiana. The third and fourth cases could then take place in Texas and Mississippi respectively.

Judge Fallon was even treated to a Xarelto science fair, where parties from both sides informally presented information to the court about the medical/scientific issues that will likely crop up throughout the litigation.

Why This Litigation Is Happening

Xarelto is a blood thinner that was introduced back in 2011. It was hailed as a better alternative to Coumadin, which was used to treat individuals who were at risk of blod clots from deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Chances are you have probably seen a Xarelto commercial. Chances are you have also probably seen a commercial for a law firm advertising representation for Xarelto cases.

The drug has been a huge cash cow for Bayer/Johnson & Johnson, meaning they have gone all out to market it throughout the United States. It is true that all blood thinners have a risk of bleeding injuries, but Xarelto has been linked to an alarming number of issues, including severe bleeding and a few fatalities.

The main draw of Xarelto was that users do not have to undergo blood monitoring like they would if they were on Coumadin. This is starting to be refuted though, with various studies suggesting that Xarelto users would actually benefit from blood monitoring since it would allow doctors to know who is at greatest risk of bleeding. When Xarelto lawsuits started rolling in, plaintiffs claimed that Bayer/Johnson & Johnson failed to warn patients about the bleeding risks associated with the drug. This was a huge deal considering that there is no antidote or reversal agent that can be used to stop excessive bleeding caused by Xarelto.

Other anticoagulants have also come under fire over the past few years, including Pradaxa. That drug’s manufacturer, Boehringer Ingelheim, ended up forking over $650 million to settle the claims against it. Bellwether trials have a tendency to ramp up settlement negotiations and move MDLs along. Hopefully the same will happen here.

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Big changes are coming to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A few of these changes make some pretty significant amendments to language in the discovery rules. Depending on how they are applied and interpreted, there is real potential for a reduction in the amount of information that can be discovered, which would reduce the cost of litigation across the board.

The Changes 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the changes that were approved by the Supreme Court in April:

  1. Getting rid of the language in Rule 26 that allows for discovery of information “that may lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”
  2. Relying on a balancing test to limit the scope of discovery.
  3. Making fee-shifting a bigger deal when handling protective orders.

    rules

    Will amendments to the FRCP change the landscape of discovery in federal courts?

  4. Requiring objections to requests for production to state if documents are actually being withheld as a result of the objection.
  5. Making changes to how electronically stored information (ESI) is preserved and destroyed.
  6. Getting rid of the appendix of forms.
  7. Reducing the time to serve a summons after filing a complaint by 30 days.
  8. Reducing the time for a court to enter a scheduling order by 30 days.

What This Means For Discovery

Changes in discovery rules is a big deal.  We have been all playing under the old rules for a long time now.  This is a big change.  Discovery is ALWAYS a battlefield in civil litigation. We are all looking for some angle to advance our case in a way that increases (plaintiffs, the good guys) the value of the case.

FRCP 26 as it currently reads allows for discovery of relevant information AND information that “may lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” The reach of Rule 26 is unbelievably broad. Given this massive reach, it is fairly easy to bury an opposing party in document requests when you can essentially use a shotgun blast to do the work of an arrow. Getting rid of the “may lead to” language, I think, really shows an intent to narrow the scope of Rule 26. The question now becomes exactly how narrow is that scope?

In finding that answer, litigants and courts will have to rely on new language that sets out a proportionality requirement. Discovery must now be:

proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties’ relative access to relevant information, the parties’ resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.

Goodness, judges have a lot of discretion on this.  This is such a beauty is in the eye of the beholder question.

One of the gatekeepers of discovery is proportionality.  The rules have always contemplated whether the information sought was so burdensome that its utility was outweighed by its cost. Rule 26(b)(2) was really the only rules-based guidance on proportionality, but the addition of this new verbiage would provide stronger guidelines for courts when looking at a discovery dispute.

One thing that strikes me about this language is the addition of “the amount in controversy” as a factor. Does this mean that a personal injury lawsuit for $75,001 is less important than a multi-million dollar lawsuit between two corporations in the eyes of the Federal Rules? The intersection of the 1st, 5th, and 14th Amendments create a right of access to the courts. So wouldn’t this right be diminished or misapplied if the small personal injury victim gets  less access to the courts simply because the amount at issue.

Also, is it the absolute amount in controversy or is it how much it means to the parties?  My client has a million dollar personal injury case and Apple has a billion dollar patent infringement case. Which one has a high amount in controversy?   I can assure you that the million dollars to my client is worth a lot more than the billion dollars to Apple.  Is that baked into this calculus?

The New Rules and Personal Injury Lawsuits

These new rules have special relevance to personal injury lawsuits, employment cases, product liability suits, or really any lawsuit that involves individual plaintiffs taking on big corporations. In your garden variety product liability or premises liability suit, the defendant is generally a giant corporation with thousands, maybe even millions, of documents that they may have to fork over if served with comprehensive discovery requests. Meanwhile, individual plaintiffs typically do not have anywhere close to that amount of discoverable documentation in their possession. As a result, a plaintiff can place a huge monetary and labor-related burden on the defendant just to produce all of this information. Litigation between two large corporate entities usually doesn’t produce this problem in light of the threat of “mutually assured destruction” from voluminous document requests. But you’ll often see a lot of companies settle cases just to forgo the massive efforts expended to produce discovery.

This is not a bad thing.  Plaintiffs who are real victims have interests that are diametrically opposed to those who garner settlements because of fear of publicity or cost of discovery.  So that is a good byproduct.  But the new rules might produce some results that could hurt real victims.  If the scope of discovery is indeed limited by this new language, plaintiffs won’t be able to put these huge corporations’ feet to the fire in discovery to produce information that could yield real fruit simply because it is only one case and is not big enough to put the corporation through all of the effort.  This would be a very bad outcome.

So Will This New Wave of Change Actually Happen?

The impact of these new rules is going to vary wildly by judge. This rule is going to give judges broader discretion to do whatever they want to do.  Because they are going to be even more bullet proof on discovery issues.

When do these rules take effect? Assuming Congress does not amend these changes — and they won’t —  they will go into effect on December 1, 2015.

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Around 22 complaints involving power morcellators are pending in 16 different U.S. federal courts around the country. Plaintiffs are now requesting a federal judge to centralize proceedings for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). I touched on the issues surrounding power morcellators on more than one occasion, but let’s talk about where these cases are and where they are going.

Power Morcellator Lawsuits

morcellator-device

Power Morcellator Litigation Heating Up

Power morcellators are surgical devices that are used to cut portions of the uterus into small fragments so they can be easily extracted through a patient’s stomach. Morcellators are utilized in laparoscopic hysterectomies where patients want to avoid traditional surgical scarring. Although morcellators are a great way of avoiding just that, the nature of the device and procedure often means that fragments of tissue are left behind after a procedure. Doctors and patients really didn’t worry about this too much because they were under the impression that the risks associated with leaving trace amounts of tissue behind were low.

Starting in 2006, however, pathologists informed a manufacturer of power morcellators, Johnson & Johnson, that their use has the potential to cause cancerous cells in the uterus to spread. Typically, these cells would have been contained in the uterus, but using a morcellator could break up cancerous fibroids in the uterus, increasing the risk of cancer spreading throughout the body. Granted, it’s not like every patient who undergoes a hysterectomy is faced with this risk. Current estimates suggest that about 1 in 350 patients who undergo this procedure have cancer cells contained within the uterus. So the incidence of cancer may be low, but considering that around a half-million patients have undergone a laparoscopic hysterectomy, around 1,500 patients were wantonly exposed to the risk of cancer.

The FDA actually had a formal meeting about power morcellators back in April of last year, after which they offered a warning about the risk associated with power morcellators. They did not issue a recall, but numerous hospitals have discontinued their use, while Johnson & Johnson temporarily suspended sales of the product. After issues began to pop up, lawsuits were filed throughout the country. Those lawsuits suggested that Johnson & Johnson did not adequately warn doctors and patients about the risks associated with power morcellators, meaning they did not have the information needed to make an informed choice about the procedure. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the FDA now insists that traditional hysterectomies are the safer way to go.

The Current MDL

All of the current power morcellator lawsuits floating around the federal courts make similar allegations: the manufacturers failed to warn patients about the risks associated with the device. This being the case, the plaintiffs filed a motion to transfer with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation asking for consolidation. An MDL would help the parties avoid doing the same discovery over and over again, while allowing one judge to make rulings on similar pre-trial issues. It is similar to a class action, but after discovery and bellwether trials, the cases would then be sent back to their respective districts for individual trials.

The plaintiffs involved in these cases are looking to consolidate the cases before Judge Kathryn H. Vratil in the District of Kansas. The manufacturers have until July 10, 2015 to respond to the request and oral arguments regarding an MDL will be heard sometime in October in New York City.

When cases are consolidated in an MDL, the parties then select certain cases to go forward as bellwether trials. These trials allow the parties to test their cases before juries, gauging how people react to evidence that is put forth. Their outcomes often have a direct influence on settlements and their value.

Hiring a Lawyer

If you believe you have cancer — or lost a loved on from cancer – as the result of the use of a power morcellator, you need to call a lawyer.  Call us at 800-553-8082 or get a free on-line consultation here.

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An interesting new piece of evidence recently came to light at a trial against Pfizer in Philadelphia. Internal memos suggest that Pfizer actually believed that Zoloft caused birth defects in pregnant women for years, perhaps providing the smoking gun that was missing in previous Zoloft cases.

The News

A jury in Philadelphia, PA is currently listening to evidence in a trial against Pfizer brought by the family of an 8-year-old girl, who was born with heart defects. The family’s suit alleged that Pfizer failed to adequately warn women that their zoloft118394bigantidepressant, Zoloft, could potentially lead to birth defects. The 8-year-old girl in this case was born with congenital defects and malformations in her heart, which were allegedly caused by exposure to the drug Zoloft. In their lawsuit, the family specifically notes that the girl was born with a hole in her heart and has experienced several cardiac episodes over the years.

As part of their case, the plaintiff’s family identified internal reports by Francesca Kolitsopoulous, who is the associate director of Pfizer’s Worldwide Strategy epidemiology group. According to the evidence presented at trial, she specifically warned Pfizer executives about studies showing a link between Zoloft and heart defects. The report suggests that she even recommended that the drug’s label be modified to warn users of this new information. Kolitsopoulous pinpointed a link between the drug and septal heart defects. This nugget of information is incredibly relevant to this case given that it is the exact type of injury suffered by the plaintiff.

Kolitsopoulous’ warnings didn’t end there either. She also allegedly told Pfizer executives that Zoloft could cause omphalocele birth defects, which produce holes in the abdominal walls. This is yet another serious side-effect, given that it results in a fetus’ intestines and organs protruding outside of their body. Unfortunately, Pfizer received warning about these sorts of things dating all the way back to 1998, but none of these reports were disclosed until this trial.

Of course, Pfizer is downplaying the report, saying that plaintiff’s attorneys have “cherry-picked” the memo. Even if the memo was “cherry-picked” it would appear to be some fairly low-hanging fruit. Plus, Pfizer is saying that the report is being used of context. Whatever you say, Pfizer.

Zoloft Information and Litigation

Pfizer is currently defending several hundred Zoloft lawsuits, which are fairly similar to this case. The company actually just won a Zoloft case in Missouri, but attorneys in that case did not produce the inculpatory documents that were brought out here. There are also Pfizer cases floating around the federal system, comprising a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). Those cases are currently consolidated before Judge Cynthia Rufe in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

All of this litigation surrounding Zoloft stems from alleged birth defects that are caused by the drug. Zoloft is actually one of the most widely used medications in the United States, but numerous studies have linked the drug to serious, if not life-threatening, birth defects in children. The FDA has issued warnings for Zoloft dating back to 2006 when they noted that newborns were at nearly six times the risk for pulmonary hypertension if the drug was taken after the twentieth week of pregnancy. A 2007 study then showed a correlation between Zoloft and abnormal skull development, gastrointestinal defects, and even brain abnormalities. Pfizer really kept taking punches when it came to Zoloft considering that two years later a study in the British Medical Journal linked the drug to pregnancy defects such as those experienced in the case discussed above.

We will see how much of a difference this new memo makes. If it leads to a big verdict in this case, Pfizer might be a bit more willing to settle some of the cases against them.

 

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Nearly 2,000 HeartWare Ventricular Assist Systems (VAS) are being recalled due to potentially faulty power supply connectors. The defect could lead to serious injury or death in the event that power failure causes the entire system to stop working.

The Recall

The FDA issued a Class I recall for certain VAS devices after receiving numerous reports of malfunctions. Luckily, most of the failures did not result in any damage, but there was at least one serious injury reported due to a power failure. A “Class I” recall means that the FDA thinks that there is a “reasonable vasprobability” that the continued use of the product will lead to serious health consequences or even death. Obviously, this is a recall to take very seriously should you use VAS. Mechanically, the main issue is that power connector ports tend to wear down over time. Should they become worn down enough, the power supply would lose its connection to the system, effectively rendering the VAS useless. Patients have reported that the power supply connectors have become twisted or bent, which prevents them from connecting the device control unit to the VAS itself. You know how when you’re vacuuming and you round a corner too quickly, ripping the cord out of the wall and bending up the power cord prongs? That’s what is going on here. The stakes are just a little higher.

This is such a big deal because VAS devices are used in patients who are awaiting heart transplants due to end-stage left ventricular heart failure. The device is designed to pump blood to the rest of the body by using an artificial pump placed around the heart. The system is then customized to accommodate the speed and function required for each individual. Think of a VAS as a pacemaker that not only kick starts heart function, but then does some of the heart’s job as well.

HeartWare “Urgent Device Correction”

The specific devices being recalled include all VAS devices with the product codes 1101 and 1103, which were manufactured by HeartWare of Miami Lakes. They were sold all across the USA from January of 2008 to March of this year. HeartWare picked up on the issue too, issuing an “Urgent Medical Device Correction” to users. They even said that they will replace the defective controllers by July 2016. However, their procedure has a few more moving parts than the FDA recall: healthcare providers have to identify all patients affected by the recall and warn them via traceable mail. Then patients have to make an appointment with their health care professional, who will inspect the power supply and advise the patient accordingly. HeartWare has set up a 24-hour clinical support line for any inquiries related to their products. You can call them at 1-888-494-6365 or email them at FSCA@heartware.com with concerns. Plus, the FDA wants your help with reporting any adverse reactions or quality concerns related to HeartWare’s products.

Previous HeartWare Recalls

Last July, HeartWare recalled a similar device after two people died and four more were seriously injured from power connection issues. This didn’t sit well with the feds, who decided to take a look at their Miami Lakes Facility, noting some serious deficiencies involving their process for making sure that their products, you know, work. They were issued a warning following that inspection, which appraised the company of the fact that their practices were sub-par compared to other medical device manufacturers.  This whole thing is just a mess.

 

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Over the past few months, I discussed some litigation involving certain antibiotics and nerve damage. Since then, lawsuits against the drug manufacturers have been piling up, with the big companies already looking to makes things more difficult for plaintiffs.

Floroquinolone-based Antibiotic MDL?

There are about 24 cases floating around the federal court system alleging that the manufacturers of floroquinolone-based antibiotics such as Levaquin, Cipro, antibiand Avelox failed to warn patients that the drugs led to a condition called peripheral neuropathy. Considering the similarities between the cases, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion asking for consolidation as Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). Their argument was pretty logical: all of these cases involve similar allegations against the same defendants, so why not combine the judiciary’s time and resources to make things a little easier on everyone?

But of course, nothing is easy, especially for the defendants in these cases. Last week, Bayer filed a response that opposed consolidating cases involving their drugs Cipro and Avelox. Janssen Pharmaceuticals followed suit and filed an opposition to throwing Levaquin cases in to the mix as well. They argued that there are simply too many different drugs to litigate about here and that “case-specific” issues will dominate proceedings.  But this argument could be made in almost any MDL case.  In their briefs, defense attorneys suggested that that there are big differences when it comes to the three drugs, especially involving their warning labels.  But so what?  Consolidated cases is still going to promote judicial economy.

The best defense argument is that there are too few individual cases currently filed to justify centralizing.  I don’t think this is true but there is clearly a lot more cases coming.  Some I’m not sure I fully see the wisdom in fighting a class action.  Otherwise,  a case is going to get steam and the defendants are going to have to overpay for it or risk a huge verdict.  Either would increase the value of these cases dramatically.

Plaintiffs arguments are also typical.  Victim’s content that a class action is necessary to avoid conflicting rulings from various members of the federal judiciary. They also point out that the discovery process is going to be substantially similar for each plaintiff considering the common issues. And with that in mind, the convenience of the parties, courts, and witnesses is best served by consolidating the various litigation. Oral argument on the matter is slated for July 30th, so it will be interesting to see how the MDL panel reacts.  I think and MDL is coming eventually one way or another.  Why not just get it started now?

Floroquinolone Lawsuits

The genesis of this litigation can trace its way back to 2004, when the manufacturers of Avelox, Cipro, and Levaquin placed warnings on their drugs suggesting that nerve damage was a potential side-effect. The FDA intervened in 2013 and really started to stress the dangers that these drugs posed. While warnings from the companies suggested that nerve damage caused by the antibiotics was mild and temporary, the FDA stressed that the drugs could cause problems well after users stopped taking them. Doctors now must warn patients about the possibility of nerve damage, meaning patients are in a much better position to make an informed choice when contemplating the drug. Unfortunately for some people, though, the damage is already done.

In some individuals, the main side-effect, peripheral neuropathy, causes muscle weakness, numbness, and pain. What’s more disheartening is the new evidence that suggests that Avelox’s manufacturer (Bayer) may have known about this for years and kept it under wraps. That same company continued to peddle the antibiotic as if it were 100% safe for years after discovering these problems. Hopefully, the pending litigation will hold the companies accountable.

Hiring a Lawyer

Our law firm is looking at these types of cases.  Our lawyers are dedicated to seeking justice and compensation for victims.  Call us at 800-553-8082 to discuss your options or get a free online consultation.

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AbbVie, manufacturer of the drug Androgel, recently asked a federal judge overseeing litigation against them to bifurcate expert discovery and summary judgment in pretrial proceedings. After rejecting the request, the judge then outlined a schedule for bellwether trials to move forward.

AbbVie’s Request

Low T Cases Moving Forward

In the ongoing MDL involving Androgel and other “low T” treatment drugs, AbbVie recently asked Judge Matthew Kennelly to amend the schedule for choosing bellwether cases for trial, specifically noting that they wished to bifurcate expert discovery and summary judgment. Summary judgment would have involved causation and other relevant issues. Judge Kennelly decided that doing so would not be fair and reasonable to both parties, although he did extend the general process for choosing bellwether cases. AbbVie is probably pretty happy about this extension considering that they tried to slow down the bellwether trial process before.

While a previous case management order suggested that cases should start going to trial in 2016, Judge Kennelly is now requiring the parties to submit a proposal for the selection process by August 10, 2015. Cases are going to be divvied up into two categories: 1) blood clot cases involving thromboembolism or deep vein thrombosis and 2) heart attack cases. If all goes to plan, a final bellwether selection should be made by the end of August.

On October 31, the parties are expected to select eight Androgel cases dealing with the two categories of injuries mentioned above, which is sure to put a damper on their Halloween plans. Diligent readers of this blog will know that Judge Kennelly wants these cases to go to trial starting in March 2016, with cases to then be tried all the way through early 2017.

How We Got Here

Beginning last year, cases against AbbVie involving the drug Androgel were consolidated in the Northern District of Illinois before U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly. These suits allege that men taking Androgel were exposed to serious side-effects of the drug, which include heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and other significant injuries. Androgel was not the only culprit, as other low-T drugs such as Testim and Axiron came under scrutiny. Around 1,500 lawsuits against the manufacturers of these drugs, namely AbbVie, have been filed so far.

Androgel and other low-T treatment drugs have been a huge hit for AbbVie. Few men do not  want to defy nature and stop aging. But like with most things, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Men taking the drug were soon faced with side effects including heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and deep vein thrombosis. The thrust of these lawsuits is that men and doctors were not adequately warned about these side effects. No one is really looking for a recall of the drug.  Maybe some men should be taking it based on their unique circumstances.  But clearly more men were on low-T drugs then there should have been given these risk.  Which takes us back to the core of these lawsuits.  Doctors and patients should be adequately informed of risks. It’s like before going scuba diving you would want to know if the waters are shark-infested, but you probably are not calling for mass extermination of sharks. That is the logic that plaintiffs are employing here: notify the patient of the risks so that, in the end, they can make the call. We can argue about the best warning — package insert or black box — but there needs to be something.

Bifurcation Request

At the end of the day, what does AbbVie’s request to bifurcate actually mean? Basically what AbbVie wanted to do was have two trials.  The first one would be on liability.  So a jury would decide whether AbbVie was negligent in their failure to warn.  If the jury found that the company was not negligent, that would be the end of the case.  If there was a liability finding, then there would be a second trial to determine how much money should be awarded.

This is a home run for almost any defendant.  Keep out the sympathy factor of the injuries and just focus on the science. But judges rarely grant this request because it is generally unfair to plaintiffs.  Juries are filled with adults who deserve to understand the entire case in context, including what harm was caused.   Fortunately, the judge did the right thing in this case and denied AbbVie’s request.

Getting a Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been hurt by AbbVie’s testosterone therapy, call our lawyers and figure out if there are options to get you financial compensation for your injuries.   Callt 1.800.553.8082 or online here.

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Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories are seeking to centralize proceedings in the Benicar cases currently floating around the New Jersey state court system. In doing so, they are looking to consolidate their cases in a manner similar to multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the federal courts.

“Multi-County Litigation”

Last week, the acting administrator of the New Jersey courts issued a notice to the state bar, indicating that Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories newjersey2(manufacturers of the drug Benicar) filed an application with the New Jersey Supreme Court. This application requested that all product liability claims involving Benicar, filed in the state of New Jersey, be consolidated as “Multi-County Litigation” (MCL). The manufacturers further requested that other suits involving drugs that contain Olmesartan Medoxomil be consolidated as part of the MCL as well.

According to their application, there are nearly 60 cases that are in New Jersey judicial purgatory. All of these cases involve allegations that Benicar induced chronic diarrhea as a side effect along with sprue-like enteropathy. Other olmesartan-based blood pressure drugs have received the same criticism, but problems with Benicar seem to be the most widely reported maybe because they have so much market share.  The vast majority (all but one, in fact) of the suits were filed in Atlantic County. Attorneys for Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories claimed that it would “make no sense” to try the various cases before different judges across the state. They also expressed a desire to litigate in a “Multi-County litigation venue with an experienced judge.”

Over the past year, people throughout the United States have filed Benicar claims, alleging that the manufacturers of the drug withheld warnings about side effects such as diarrhea and abdominal pain. The big problem with these side effects is that they might not even crop up until months or years after the first use of the drug. This being the case, many, if not most, plaintiffs complain that they experienced issues with Benicar over long stretches of time. The good news is that symptoms tend to settle down when patients are no longer on the drug, but the damage already done is often severe. The side effects of Benicar can lead to erosion of the intestines, leaving patients with food intolerance, malnutrition, and complications that mimic Celiac disease.

Prior Litigation

Benicar lawsuits have made their way into the federal courts as well. A New Jersey federal judge consolidated pretrial proceedings in the various Benicar cases that were filed throughout the U.S. Judge Robert Kugler is currently in command of the federal litigation, meaning he will set the schedule for consolidated discovery and “bellwhether” trials.

At the end of the day, Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories are going to be dealing with thousands of these complaints, not just in New Jersey but across the U.S. In both federal and state litigation, the parties will go through coordinated discovery and pre-trial proceedings. Afterwards, “bellwhether trials” will allow attorneys from both sides to gauge how juries react to these cases. This often helps the parties determine the appropriate settlement value. Obviously, this is the preferred route for both the plaintiffs and defendants (provided that the price is right), so this MCL should (hopefully) speed this process along.

Bringing a Benicar Lawsuit

If you have been hurt by Benicar or another  olmesartan-based blood pressure drug, you should be talking to a lawyer to better understand your options.  Call us today at 800.553.8082, on reach out to us online here.

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A Missouri jury recently awarded $15,ooo,ooo to the family of a girl who was born with spina bifida, finding that the drug Depakote led to her condition. Specifically, the suit alleged that AbbVie, who also manufactures drugs like AndroGel, failed to sufficiently warn pregnant mothers who were on the drug about the risk of birth defects.

The Verdict

This specific lawsuit was a products liability action brought by a 12 year-old girl and her family after she experienced health problems throughout her entire life. They alleged that AbbVie failed to adequately warn pregnant women about the correlation between Depakote and birth defects. The $15,000,000 verdict is Depakotecomprised of compensatory damages for the girl’s medical care (which will be required throughout her entire life), along with pain and suffering, and other costs. There is actually a possibility that AbbVie could be responsible for paying millions more in punitive damages in a second phase of trial that will determine whether AbbVie recklessly endangered the lives of unborn children.

This isn’t the only Depakote lawsuit floating around the judicial system either. Numerous families have raised similar allegations against AbbVie, claiming that the drug has caused all manner of birth defects. Depakote has actually kept AbbVie’s legal department fairly busy considering that the United States government launched an official investigation into the drug being used off-label. The investigation stemmed from allegations of health care fraud when AbbVie marketed the drug as a cure for aggression and agitation in the elderly. Not to worry though, the company pled guilty to all of the criminal and civil allegations and forked over $1.5 billion to the federal and various state governments to make it all go away.

Depakote

Depakote is not exactly a new drug considering that it was approved by the FDA back in 1978. Since then, it has been approved to treat epileptic seizures and convulsions. The drug soon found itself on the FDA’s radar, prompting them to issue a Black Box warning alerting both patients and doctors of the potential birth defects that the drug may cause. A few years later the FDA specifically warned patients about the possibility of neural tube defects, heart defects and craniofacial birth defects, while also warning about suicidal thoughts and actions associated with Depakote use. Still, the drug was making too much money for Abbott to voluntarily recall.

A 2010 study really put the nail in the coffin for the drug, confirming that the risk of spina bifida increased nearly twelve-fold for children of women who were taking Depakote at the time of pregnancy. And in 2011 the FDA issued another warning, claiming that there was a correlation between Depakote and diminished cognitive abilities. The warning suggested that children born to mothers who were on the drug also have lower IQs.

The drug was a huge cash cow for AbbVie and Abbott Laboratories, generating around $1.5 billion in sales each year. But considering how closely Depakote was linked to birth defects and other conditions, it is likely that the verdict in this case will not be AbbVie’s last for the drug. Millions of people were prescribed Depakote and unfortunately the damage has already been done.

Depakote Settlement Value 

This verdict increases the value of the Depakote birth injury cases.  By how much?  No one knows.  Clearly, the average settlement value of the Depakote cases is not $15 million. But with each big verdicts — and this is a big verdict — the value increases.  This verdict should do two things in the big picture: increase the settlement value and quicken the timetable for a global settlement.  So when will these cases settle?  I have no idea.

Getting a Lawyer for Your Claim

If your child has suffered an injury, both you and your child may be entitled to compensation.  Learn about your options by calling 800-553-8082 or get a free no obligation online consultation.

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A Delaware jury made a huge damage award in a lawsuit against Boston Scientific regarding the company’s Pinnacle and Advance Fit pelvic mesh devices. Boston Scientific is facing thousands of these lawsuits across the United States, but just this one case will cost the company $100,000,000.

The Case

Similar to so many other women who have sued Boston Scientific, the plaintiff in this case received Pinnacle and Advance Fit mesh to help with her pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. The plaintiff alleged that the device caused serious injuries and complications. She required two surgeries to remove the mesh, and even after the surgeries, pieces of the product are still in her body, which cause permanent pain and discomfort.  After trial and deliberations, the jury ordered Boston Scientific to pay $25,000,000 in compensatory damages and $75,000,000 in punitive damages to the plaintiff.

While this is great news for the plaintiff in this individual case, the 3,000 other plaintiffs who just settled their vaginal mesh claims against Boston Scientific for a bostonscientific_logocombined $119,000,000 are likely to be a little miffed upon hearing about this damage award. Still, thousands of other cases have yet to settle or go before a jury, meaning settlement values will likely go up in light of this verdict.

Of course, Boston Scientific has already been slammed with other multi-million dollar jury verdicts. Each contained similar punitive damage awards for recklessly endangering the safety and health of consumers through the manufacturing and marketing of these products. This includes a $26.7 Million verdict to four women in Florida and an $18.5 Million verdict to a group of women in West Virginia. Prior to this verdict, the largest award came from a Texas court, who awarded $73.4 Million to a woman who developed problems with Boston Scientific mesh. It was later reduced according to Texas state law, but it gave Boston Scientific an idea of what they were in for.

Transvaginal Mesh Settlement Update  

Other manufacturers have been facing similar allegations that their products, such as transvaginal mesh and bladder slings, cause pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence in women. In fact, seven different multidistrict litigations were established throughout the federal court system for cases against various manufacturers such as: Cook Medical; Neomedic; Coloplast; American Medical Systems; Ethicon; and C.R. Bard. All of these cases were consolidated before Judge Joseph Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia. Between these manufacturers, around 37,000 cases are before the Southern District for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

In late 2014, one manufacturer, Endo/AMS,  agreed to settle most of the 20,000 mesh suits against it for around $1.6 Billion.  I think it is fair to say that the Endo/AMS cases are were not the best vaginal mesh lawsuits.  Judge Goodwin is encouraging the other manufacturers to take their lead and settle these cases. He warned, and this verdict confirmed, that these companies could end up paying billions in verdicts if these cases went to juries. Plus, the federal courts cannot try cases like the state courts can, so it could take decades to try them. It would also have the potential to inundate the manufacturers with litigation, but plaintiffs should not let that serve as a reason to accept a lesser amount in settlement.

So what does this verdict mean?  The global settlement value of a mass tort claim is like the stock market.  It goes up and down based on new facts. A $100 million verdict is a new fact that is going to push up the value of these claims.