One way for defendants to resolve a mass tort is to engage the plaintiffs’ steering committee in negotiations for a nationwide settlement. Another option is to cut quieter private deals with individual plaintiffs firms. GlaxoSmithKline appears to have chosen the latter strategy in litigation over its embattled billion-dollar diabetes drug Avandia, which Food & Drug Administration reviewers have linked to an increased risk of heart attacks.

Vance Andrus of Andrus Boudreaux, co-lead counsel in the federal Avandia multi-district litigation in Philadelphia, confirmed to the Litigation Daily parts of a report by Bloomberg News that plaintiffs lawyers Mark Lanier of the Lanier Law Firm; Sol Weiss of Anapol, Schwartz, Weiss, Cohan, Feldman & Smalley; and Ted Oshman of Oshman & Mirisola have settled their inventory of state and federal Avandia cases. Andrus told us that GSK recently announced in federal court that it had settled Lanier’s inventory of cases; Weiss, he said, announced in state court that he was in the midst of settling his cases.

Andrus said details of the Lanier and Weiss deals were not made public. According to Bloomberg, Glaxo agreed to settle more than 700 cases filed by the three lawyers for $60 million. Neither Lanier nor Weiss was available for comment.

GlaxoSmithKline, which is represented in the Avandia litigation by Pepper Hamilton, told us it didn’t have any comment on the settlements, but the company said in a statement that it is continuing to prepare for trial. “GlaxoSmithKline stands by Avandia and is fully prepared to defend any litigation because we are confident that when courts and juries look at actual clinical data, the manner in which we communicated with the FDA and physicians, and our openness in posting studies on our website, the facts will support our position,” the statement said. Avandia is one of Glaxo’s best-selling products, with sales of about $1.2 billion in 2010, according to Reuters.

The first Avandia trials are scheduled to begin on June 1. But according to Andrus, the plaintiff in the first state court case was supposed to be represented by Lanier and Weiss. There’s a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in the case before Judge Sandra Mazer Moss of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.