WEEKLY MDL and MASS TORT UPDATE by MASS TORT NEXUS for Week of November 27, 2017

By Mark A. York (November 30, 2017)

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This week in mass torts around the country:

Opioid Crisis: See Mass Tort Nexus Briefcase Re: OPIOID CRISIS MATERIALS INCLUDING: MDL 2804 OPIATE PRESCRIPTION LITIGATION

> Superseding indictments of Insys Therapeutics Executives Unsealed in USDC of Massachusetts

BOSTON — A federal indictment against seven high-ranking officers of opioid maker Insys Therapeutics Inc. was unsealed Oct. 26 in a Massachusetts federal court charging the men with racketeering, mail fraud and conspiracy for a scheme to pay kickbacks to doctors for, and to fraudulently induce health insurers into approving, off-label prescriptions for the company’s addictive Subsys fentanyl spray (United States of America v. Michael L. Babich, et al., No. 16-cr-10343, D. Mass.).

>Doctor Pleads Guilty To Opioid Health Care Fraud, Taking Kickbacks From Insys

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Rhode Island doctor on Oct. 25 pleaded guilty to health care fraud and taking kickbacks for prescribing the opioid Subsys to unqualified patients (United States of America v. Jerrold N. Rosenberg, No. 17-9, D. R.I.).

 > Opioid Distributors Support MDL While Municipalities Oppose

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The “Big Three” national drug distributors on Oct. 20 told a federal judicial panel that they support centralization of more than 60 opioid lawsuits filed against them by various cities and counties (In Re:  National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2804, JPML).

Related Mass Tort Nexus Opiod Articles:

>California Appeals Court Denies Insurance Coverage For Opioid Drug Makers Defense: Will other insurers say no to opioid coverage? Nov 15, 2017

>Targeting Big Pharma and Their Opiate Marketing Campaigns: Across The USA Nov 3, 2017

For more Mass Tort Nexus Opiod Crisis Information See: Mass Tort Nexus Newsletters and MDL Updates

IVC FILTERS:

Cook Medical IVC: See Mass Tort Nexus Briefcase Re: Cook Medical IVC Filter MDL 2570

>First Cook IVC Bellwether Trial Starts in USDC SD of Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — The first bellwether trial in the Cook Medical Inc. inferior vena cava (IVC) filter multidistrict litigation got under way on Oct. 23 in Indianapolis federal court (In re:  Cook Medical, Inc., IVC Filters Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2570, No. 14-ml-2570, Elizabeth Jane Hill v. Cook Medical, Inc., No. 14-6016, S.D. Ind., Indianapolis Div.).

Cordis IVC Filters: See Cordis IVC Filter Litigation Alameda County, California Superior Court

>Cordis IVC Filter Plaintiffs Tell Supreme Court Trial Proposal Is No ‘Mass Action’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Plaintiffs in an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter case on Oct. 18 told the U.S. Supreme Court that their suggestion of individual bellwether trials does not convert their actions into a mass action under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 119 Stat. 4 (Cordis Corporation v. Jerry Dunson, et al., No. 17-257, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 4013).

Taxotere: See Taxotere MDL 2740 (US District Court Eastern District of Louisiana)

>Taxotere MDL Judge Denies Statute of Limitations Motion by Sanofi

NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana federal judge overseeing the Taxotere multidistrict litigation on Oct. 27 denied without prejudice a motion by defendant Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC to dismiss claims barred by applicable statutes of limitations (In Re:  Taxotere [Docetaxel] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2740, No. 16-md-2740, E.D. La.).

Pelvic Mesh: Boston Scientific TVM Litigation MDL 2362

>Exclusion of 510(k) Defense in Boston Scientific Pelvic Mesh Case:

ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 19 said multidistrict litigation court judge did not err in consolidating four pelvic mesh cases for a bellwether trial and in excluding the so-called 510(k) defense raised by defendant Boston Scientific Corp. (BSC) (Amal Eghnayem, et al. v. Boston Scientific Corporation, No. 16-11818, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 20432).

PLAVIX: See Mass Tort Nexus Briefcase Re: PLAVIX MDL 2418 USDC NEW JERSEY

>Plaintiff Loses Plavix Case on Summary Judgment Over Late “Learned Intermediary” Declaration

TRENTON, N.J. — The judge overseeing the Plavix multidistrict litigation on Oct. 26 granted summary judgment in a case after ruling that the plaintiff’s “eleventh hour” declaration by one treating physician did not overcome California’s learned intermediary defense for defendants Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMS) and Sanofi-Aventis U.S. Inc. (In Re:  Plavix Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2418, No. 13-4518, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177588).

Abilify MDL 2734: Mass Tort Nexus Briefcase Re: Abilify MDL 2734

 >Abilify MDL Judge Orders Defendants To Name Settlement Counsel

PENSACOLA, Fla. — The Florida federal judge overseeing the Abilify multidistrict litigation on Oct. 25 ordered the defendants to engage settlement counsel for monthly settlement conferences (In Re:  Abilify [Aripiprazole] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2734, No. 16-md-2734, N.D. Fla., Pensacola Div.).

Mirena IUD: Related-Federal Court Reopens Mirena IUD Product Liability MDL Nov 3, 2016

>2nd Circuit Affirms Exclusion Of Mirena MDL Experts, Termination Of Litigation

NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 24 affirmed the exclusion of general causation experts in the Mirena multidistrict litigation and a court order terminating the MDL before any trials were held (In Re:  Mirena IUD Products Liability Litigation, Mirena MDL Plaintiffs v. Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Nos. 16-2890 and 16-3012, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 20875).

Hip ImplantsSee Mass Tort Nexus Briefcase Re: Wright Medical, Inc. MDL 2329 Conserve Hip Implant Litigation

>Wright Medical Settles Remaining Wright Hip Cases; Judge Closes MDL 2329

ATLANTA — Wright Medical Technology Inc. and plaintiffs in a multidistrict litigation have entered two additional agreements settling the remainder of the litigation, a Georgia federal judge said Oct. 18 (In Re:  Wright Medical Technology, Inc., Conserve Hip Implant Products Liability, MDL Docket No. 2329, No. 12-md-2329, N.D. Ga., Atlanta Div

Testosterone Replacement Therapy: See Mass Tort Nexus Briefcase Re: TESTOSTERONE MDL 2545 (AndroGel)

>Testosterone Bellwether Out and Pre-emption Denied

CHICAGO — An Illinois multidistrict litigation judge on Oct. 23 granted summary judgment in one of two testosterone replacement therapy bellwether cases but denied preemption in the second case (In Re:  Testosterone Replacement Therapy Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2545, No. 14-1748, N.D. Ill., Eastern Div., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176522).

 

>AbbVie, AndroGel Plaintiff Spar Over Mixed Verdict In 1st Bellwether Trial Verdict

CHICAGO — AbbVie on Oct. 25 urged the judge overseeing the testosterone replacement therapy multidistrict litigation to not disturb a bellwether trial verdict where a jury awarded $0 compensatory damages (In Re:  Testosterone Replacement Therapy Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2545, No. 14-1748, Jesse Mitchell v. AbbVie, No. 14-9178, N.D. Ill.).

Fosamax MDL 1789: See Mass Tort Nexus Briefcase Re: MDL 1789 Fosamax Products Liability Litigation USDC New Jersey

>Fosamax Femur Plaintiffs Urge Supreme Court To Deny Preemption Review

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Counsel for more than 500 Fosamax femur fracture plaintiffs on Oct. 25 urged the U.S. Supreme Court to deny certiorari to Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., arguing that their claims are not preempted by “clear evidence” that the Food and Drug Administration would have rejected stronger warnings for the osteoporosis drug (Merck Sharpe & Dohme Corp. v. Doris Albrecht, et al., No. 17-290, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 4064

 

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Mirena IUD Plaintiffs Successfully Get 2d MDL for Intracranial Hypertension Claims

Plaintiffs who have filed suit against Bayer over its Mirena hormone-coated birth control device have succeeded in having a second multidistrict litigation docket (MDL) focusing on injuries caused by increased intracranial pressure.

Judge Paul A. Engelmayer in the Southern District of New York will preside over 113 actions pending in 17 districts in MDL No. 2767, In Re: Mirena Ius Levonorgestrel-related Products Liability Litigation (No. II).

First answer is “no”

In July 2014, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) denied a motion for centralization filed by a different group of plaintiffs alleging that Mirena’s hormonal component causes or substantially contributes to the development of intracranial hypertension. See In re: Mirena Levonorgestrel-Related Prods. Liab. Litig., 38 F. Supp. 3d 1380 (J.P.M.L. 2014). The motion sought centralization of nine actions pending in six districts, all brought by the same counsel against a single defendant, BHCP. At that time, there were six potential tag-along actions.

In denying centralization, the JPMDL observed that the actions involved common factual issues, but determined that informal coordination was preferable to centralization in light of the limited number of actions, the few involved plaintiffs’ counsel, and defendant BHCP’s commitment to coordinating common discovery.

In November, the JPMDL reopened MDL 2434 in the Southern District of New York for product liability claims involving migration of the IUD in the uterus. It does not include any claims that the synthetic levonorgestrel hormone coating causes intracranial pressure or hypertension.

In the second motion for centralization, plaintiffs argue that the litigation has expanded dramatically over the past two years in terms of the number of actions, districts, and distinct plaintiffs’ firms independently litigating the actions, and informal coordination of discovery and pretrial motions has become impracticable. Bayer opposed centralization.

Second answer is “yes”

The JPMDL said, “First, the number of actions, districts, and counsel have grown substantially. The motion for centralization encompasses 113 pending actions in 17 districts, and there are at least 37 potential tagalong actions bringing the total number of involved districts to 20. The number of distinct plaintiffs’ counsel involved in this litigation also has expanded. There now are at least 12 unaffiliated plaintiffs’ firms in widely dispersed geographic locations. And although Bayer continues to have national coordinating counsel, at least 20 firms are litigating the underlying actions on the motion on its behalf. In our judgment, the number of actions, districts, and plaintiffs’ and defense counsel make effective coordination on an informal basis impracticable.”

Second, the plaintiff-specific causation issues identified byBayer presently do not appear to be an obstacle to centralization, considering the development of the litigation over the past two years. While we previously expressed concern that individualized causation issues might predominate in this litigation, the records in the manyactions filed since then demonstrate that discoveryand pretrial motions concerning the issue of general causation have been, or will be, at the center of all actions – that is, whetherthe hormonal component in Mirena is capable of causing intracranial hypertension.”

Third, the record demonstrates that centralization is necessary to facilitate the efficient conduct of common discovery. Although fact and expert discovery has closed in the ten longest pending actions, discovery remains open in nearly all other actions, with most actions at a relatively early stage of discovery or still at the pleading stage. While Bayer asserts that the longer pending 4 proceedings have resulted in the completion of all common discovery, plaintiffs vigorously disagree.”

Fourth, although a handful of actions are in an advanced procedural posture, the transferee judge possesses broad discretion to formulate a pretrial program that accounts for any significant differences among the actions and ensures that duplicative activity is minimized or eliminated.”

The lawsuits share factual questions arising out of allegations that the synthetic hormone released by Mirena causes abnormal elevation of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull, resulting in a neurological condition referred to as intracranial hypertension or pseudotumor cerebri, and that defendants did not adequately warn prescribing physicians or consumers of the alleged risk. Issues concerning general causation, the background science, and Mirena’s labeling and regulatory history with respect to the alleged injury will be common to all actions.

 

 

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