Mass tort lawyers from around the nation will be gathering in Cleveland from July 24th through July 27th for a number of important events relating to pharmaceutical and medical device litigation:
July 24th – Judge Polster and court-appointed mediator Cathy Yanni have scheduled a full day of negotiations in approximately 23 cases in the Gadolinium Based Contrast Agent MDL that involve General Electric as one of the non-settling defendants. Judge Polster has been involved in a number of meetings over the past year with plaintiffs’ counsel as well as defense attorneys for Bracco, Bayer, General Electric, and Mallinckrodt in an effort to reach settlements in the personal injury and wrongful death cases that remain in MDL No. 1909. This litigation involves gadolinium-based contrast agents that were administered to patients in conjunction with MRA and MRI scans prior to the spring of 2007. Patients exposed to these contrast drugs, especially those with pre-existing renal insufficiency or kidney failure, developed nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF), an often-fatal fibrotic condition that occurs when gadolinium is not promptly cleared by the body and becomes unstable.
July 25th – Harris Martin will be holding a seminar open to plaintiff and defense counsel that features a number of local speakers on mass tort-related topics, including information on newer mass tort projects (Pradaxa, Zoloft, Yaz, Actos, DePuy Pinnacle hip implants, NuvaRing, and Transvaginal Mesh), panel discussion with MDL judges on what works and what does not in coordination of federal court litigation, overview of management of MDL litigation by lead counsel, and protocols for management of ESI data in drug and medical device litigation. This program will include a number of federal judges with significant experience in current and past mass tort litigation management.
July 25th – Judge Katz will hold a status conference for the DePuy ASR MDL. Although Judge Katz is based in Toledo, this hearing will be held in Cleveland. The first part of the hearing begins at 9:30 with a private meeting with the Executive Committee for the MDL, and the open hearing will begin at approximately 11:30. Based upon comments made by Judge Katz at the last status conference held in Philadelphia, it is anticipated that this hearing will focus on the issuance of scheduling orders and selection of individual cases to be worked up and tried in May and July of 2013 as a part of the MDL bellwether trial process.
July 26th – The Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation will be holding its hearing in Cleveland at the Carl B. Stokes United States Courthouse at 9:00 AM. The current order for this hearing session includes oral argument or consideration of a number of issues relating to the following existing medical device and drug MDLs: NuvaRing (MDL No. 1964), Asbestos (MDL No. 875), Oxycontin (MDL No. 1603), Prempro (MDL No. 1507), Accutane (MDL No. 1626), Mentor ObTape (MDL No. 2004), Chantix (MDL No. 2092), DePuy ASR Hip Implant (MDL No. 2197), Fosamax (Alendronate Sodium) (MDL No. 2243), DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant (MDL No. 2244), Zimmer NexGen Knee Implant (MDL NO. 2272), Actos (MDL No. 2299), Wright Medical Technology, Inc. Conserve Hip Implant (MDL No. 2329), and Hydroxycut (MDL No. 2087). There are also a number of other consumer fraud, patent, securities litigation, and class action cases that are scheduled for consideration during this same hearing. The Judicial Panel will also consider requests to establish several new MDLs and transfer cases:
- MDL No. 2372 – Fentanyl Patch cases against Watson – Request has been made to transfer 11 cases pending in federal courts in Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri to the federal court in Chicago.
- MDL No. 2381 – Intuitive Surgical, Inc., d/b/a Da Vinci Robotic Surgical System Products – Plaintiffs have requested centralization of the products liability litigation (which involves only 4 cases) in the Southern District of Mississippi or Northern District of California.
- MDL No. 2385 – Pradaxa – This is probably the most anticipated portion of the upcoming JPML hearing. Plaintiffs, including a Searcy Denney client, have requested that pending Pradaxa GI bleed, intracranial hemorrhage and wrongful death lawsuits from Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee be transferred to Judge Herndon in East St. Louis. Judge Herndon has successfully managed the MDL proceedings involving Yaz, Yasmin, Ocella, and other birth control products that contain the progestin drospirenone for several years.
- MDL No. 2387 – Coloplast Corp. Pelvic Support Systems – The defendant has requested that pending lawsuits over their transvaginal mesh products from Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania be transferred to a new MDL in Southern District of West Virginia (which would be part of the MDL of MDLs created by Judge Goodwin for the management of thousands of transvaginal mesh, bladder sling, and TVT product claims against manufacturers Bard, American Medical Systems, Ethicon, and Boston Scientific).
As of May of 2012, the JPML reported that there were 301 MDL dockets established in the nation and spread among 55 district courts and 221 transferee judges. These 301 mature MDL cases include more than 58,000 pending lawsuits (and included, at one time, more than 300,000 individual lawsuits).
I hate to pick on Cleveland, but this may be the biggest boost to their economy since that basketball player whose name can no longer be uttered in that town left for sunny South Florida!