January 7, 2013 — Settlement negotiations in the Pradaxa (dabigatran) litigation will begin in August 2013, according to a Unified Case Management Plan that Judge David Herndon issued in October 2012. The parties must designate settlement counsel by July 1, 2013, and they meet at least once per month to discuss a potential settlement with the assistance of a mediator. If a settlement cannot be reached, four “bellwether” trials will begin one year later, in August 2014.
Nationwide, approximately 120 Pradaxa lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts have been transferred to the federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) located in the Southern District of Illinois. In early 2013, parties for both sides will be engaged in pre-trial discovery procedures, including depositions of key witnesses and selecting plaintiffs for the first bellwether trials.
In large pharmaceutical litigation, “bellwether” trials often help expedite settlement negotiations, if a settlement is not reached before the trials. The cases are typically selected because they contain legal questions, injuries, or matters of fact that are common to many other cases. A jury’s decisions in these early cases can help gauge how a jury would decide other cases, which can help estimate the value of a potential settlement.
Judge Herndon also announced the schedule for the first bellwether trials:
- MDL Bellwether # 1 — August 11, 2014
- Connecticut State Court Trial — September 22, 2014
- MDL Bellwether #2 — November 3, 2014
- MDL Bellwether #3 — January 5, 2015
- MDL Bellwether #4 — February 16, 2015
Most of the lawsuits allege that Boehringer Ingelheim, the manufacture of Pradaxa (dabigatran), did not adequately warn doctors or the public about the risk of life-threatening bleeding due to Pradaxa’s lack of a reversal agent. During a bleeding emergency, the only way to inactivate Pradaxa’s blood-thinning effects is with several hours of dialysis. In comparison, Coumadin (warfarin), the blood-thinner of choice for the last 50 years, can be reversed with a dose of Vitamin K. Since Pradaxa was approved in 2010, numerous case reports have described the problems doctors have faced when attempting to stop bleeding in Pradaxa patients.