June 27, 2012 — Boehringer Ingelheim has filed a motion supporting the centralization of Pradaxa lawsuits into a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), but there is a dispute about which district court is best.
There are currently 21 Pradaxa lawsuits that are proceeding in 12 district courts in the United States. If the lawsuits were consolidated into an MDL, they would remain independent, but the litigation would be more efficient and reduce the risk of conflicting rulings in different courts.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JMLP) is responsible for deciding whether to consolidate the Pradaxa lawsuits into an MDL, and where to located the potential MDL. Currently, both parties are in disagreement.
The first petition to form an MDL was filed by plaintiff Vera Lee Sellers on May 30, 2012, requesting that the litigation be centralized under U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon, who is currently presiding over the massive Yaz and Yasmin litigation. Judge Herndon’s court is located in the Southern District of Illinois.
On June 21, 2012, Boehringer Ingelheim responded to the petition with a by disagreeing with the plaintiff’s chosen venue. They proposed that the Pradaxa lawsuits be transferred to an MDL in the District of Connecticut, near Boehringer Ingelheim’s company headquarters. Attorneys for the pharmaceutical company say this location is best, because many of the relevant documents are located here, as well as witnesses and parties involved in the case.
The JPML set oral arguments regarding the venue for July 26, 2012.
There are several benefits to centralizing the Pradaxa lawsuits into an MDL. It is easier for both parties to exchange information, prepare the first cases for trial, and more convenient for the witnesses and parties. This can expedite the process and reduce costs. Furthermore, it reduces the risk that judges in different courts will issue conflicting rulings.
Potentially, there could be hundreds or even thousands more Pradaxa lawsuits yet to be filed. Just in 2011, there were 2,367 reports of serious bleeding and 542 deaths associated with Pradaxa that were reported to the FDA. In response, the FDA launched an investigation to determine whether Pradaxa is associated with a higher risk of life-threatening bleeding compared to Coumadin (warfarin), a blood-thinner that has been used for more than 50 years. The problem with Pradaxa is that, in the event of a bleeding emergency, the blood-thinning effects of the drug can only be reversed by putting the patient on dialysis for 2-3 hours. By the time this takes effect, the patient could be seriously injured.
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