Radio Law Talk Segment
*We do not get political. We just give the facts and the law.
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This is a Multidistrict Litigation case (MDL) involving a pharmaceutical drug called Nexium. Nexium is an acid reflux medication, which is designed to treat heartburn. Nexium is a Proton Pump Inhibitor, which means it decreases the amount of acid the stomach produces, ultimately relieving heartburn. The overall goal of MDL is to determine where the 161 cases of product liability actions can be centralized and handled in an efficient manner.
FACTS (brief, 6 sentences):
Plaintiffs in 24 actions pending in the state of New Jersey move to centralize the litigation in the District of New Jersey. Since there are 161 total actions being brought against multiple defendants, the plaintiffs’ argue to centralize the litigation in one district for an efficient litigation process. There are multiple Defendants including, Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth LLC, Wyeth-Ayerst laboratories, Proctor and Gamble Company, Proctor and Gamble Manufacturing Company, Takeda, and Novartis Consumer Health. Out of all 161 complaints, each Plaintiff alleges that as a result of taking one or more Proton Pump Inhibitors, they are their decedents have suffered chronic kidney disease, acute interstitial nephritis, end stage renal disease, or kidney failure. Their base argument stems from the lack of warning that the Defendants should have provided.
ISSUES (both sides):
The issue is whether the Plaintiffs’ may centralize the cases in the preferred district of New Jersey.
LAW (with references, no need for blue book citations):
See Lipitor (Atorvastatin Calcium) Mktg., Sales Practices & Prods. Liab. Litig. (No. II), 997 F. Supp. 2d 1354, 1356 (J.P.M.L. 2014) (granting follow-up motion for centralization, where number of related actions had grown from 29 in thirteen districts to over 225 in more than 40 districts; the number of involved plaintiffs’ firms had grown as well; and the Panel had been informed of related cases pending in at least three state courts).
In re: Androgel Prods. Liab. Litig., 24 F. Supp. 3d at 1379. “The other approaches proposed by the parties—centralizing only [cases involving AbbVie’s Androgel product] (and perhaps transferring ‘combination cases’), separating and remanding claims against certain manufacturers, or transferring only claims relating to testosterone replacement gels—could prove too procedurally complicated, might result in a de facto industry-wide centralization as cases involving multiple drugs become part of the MDL, or may require successive motions for centralization.”
DETAILED FACTS (tell the story):
At first the court denied the motion for centralization based on a combination of factors. First, the named Defendants varied from action to action, Astrazeneca was sued in most of the actions, but P&G was only sued in eight, Takeda in 4, and Pfizer in 2. Second, Defendants were competitors and centralizing them may complicate trade secret and confidential information. Third, the abundant amount of discovery needed was defendant-specific, given that the drugs themselves were not identical. Lastly, although moving plaintiffs’ would almost guarantee more suits by the hundreds, the 1407 motion only encompassed 39 cases including tag-alongs.
As for this current MDL motion, the court is reconsidering the factors as time has passed and more claims have been filed. The court first notes that each action shares factual issues relating to a failure to warn the buyer and that each drug contains the harmful Proton Pump Inhibitor. Second, many of the Defendants’ have changed their position in favor of the centralization because of the increase in the number of actions filed. The court notes, “Centralization will facilitate a uniform and efficient pretrial approach to this litigation, eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent rulings on Daubert and other pretrial issues, and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary.” Furthermore, the court states “a transferee judge can employ any number of techniques, such as establishing separate discovery and motion tracks, to manage pretrial proceedings efficiently.” The court therefore orders the cases outside of the District of New Jersey to be transferred to New Jersey.
OTHER FACTS (interesting facts, related facts, trivia, etc.):
The company Takeda actually argued against the centralization because they were only sued in a minimum number of the 161 actions filed. However, the court notes that proton Pump 1 is not the only factor contributing to the centralization and they consider this a “mixed-use” case.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) was the majority of issues caused by Proton Pump 1.
MEDIA (less than a 2 minutes funny sound bite. You can include a couple of options. We realize that for some topics there is not much):