September 5, 2012 — Although the Pradaxa Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) just began last month, the judge presiding over the matter is expressing his desire to “facilitate the just, speedy, and inexpensive resolution of this litigation.”
Judge David R. Herndon of the U.S. District Court for Southern Illinois set the tone of the litigation in his first case management order, dated August 17, 2012. There are at least 72 Pradaxa lawsuits pending in the MDL. Most allege that Pradaxa’s manufacturer, Pfizer, failed to adequately warn about the risk of severe Pradaxa side effects, including serious bleeding that cannot easily be reversed during an emergency.
Nationwide Pradaxa lawsuits were centralized into the MDL on August 8, 2012, after an order from the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). At the time, there were 21 claims pending in 11 district courts around the United States. Since the MDL was formed, the number of lawsuits has grown rapidly — there are now at least 72 cases involving 82 plaintiffs. Pradaxa lawyers continue filing Pradaxa lawsuits on behalf of people who were seriously injured or killed by side effects of this medication.
Judge Herndon said that he will “require that this litigation move rapidly,” and specifically spoke to lawyers who will soon be applying for leadership roles in the MDL. He warned, “anyone who cannot commit the time to accomplish this goal should not attempt to gain a leadership role.”
He said that a quick resolution to the litigation will benefit the injured plaintiffs, the defendant Pfizer who “clearly intends to vigorously defend against the allegations made,” and finally the medical community and doctors who are currently writing prescriptions for Pradaxa on a daily basis. Decisions made in the litigation could help bring attention to the risks and benefits of Pradaxa.
If the Pradaxa MDL survives dispositive pre-trial motions, Judge Herndon said he will consider establishing bellwether trials. This is a common technique used in large drug litigation, in which the Court selects certain cases that share common legal questions with other cases. These bellwether cases may proceed to trial, and decisions help decide other cases more quickly. This helps improve the efficiency of the litigation, which is useful when there are many cases to decide.
The first Pradaxa lawsuits could go to trial as soon as Spring 2014. Judge Herndon said, “the goal of this Court is to try the first case in approximately 18-24 months from the time the scheduling order is set.” As the litigation proceeds, Pfizer may decide to settle the cases early, which would further expedite a resolution. Many large MDLs continue for a few years, especially when hundreds or thousands of lawsuits are involved.
Judge Herndon has also been assigned to oversee the Yaz and Yasmin litigation, involving more than 12,000 lawsuits against Bayer. That litigation is currently in its later stages, with cases settling at a consistent pace. Lawyers expect the vast majority of those cases to settle next year.
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