The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has approved new MDLs regarding cholesterol drug Lipitor and vaginal mesh made by Neomedic to treat pelvic prolapse and incontinence in women.
Drug maker Pfizer had opposed the consolidation of 56 Lipitor cases into an MDL, partly on the grounds that the formation of a MDL would prompt an “avalanche of filings” of nonviable cases in an effort to coerce a settlement out of the pharmaceutical company. But the drug maker was most amenable to centralization in the District of South Carolina. Plaintiffs differed on which district they favored for centralization.
The panel selected U.S. District Judge Richard M Gergel of the District of South Carolina to steer the litigation.
The plaintiffs in the Lipitor MDL allege they developed type-2 diabetes as a result of taking Lipitor and their physicians were not adequately warned of that risk. The panel previously denied a motion to form an MDL in July. But since then the number of cases has grown, actions are pending in more than 40 districts before more than 100 different judges, and more plaintiffs firms are prosecuting cases. “In our judgment, the increased presence of apparently unique counsel, coupled with the increased number of involved actions, districts, and judges, makes it highly difficult, if not impossible, to coordinate this litigation effectively on an informal basis,” the panel said.
In contrast to Pfizer, Neomedic did not oppose centralization into an MDL in the Southern District of West Virginia. Six plaintiffs had moved for an MDL involving 21 cases so far, 14 of which are already pending in West Virginia federal court.
“Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary,” the panel said.
Several other MDLs involving the surgical implantation of vaginal mesh are already centralized in front of Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.
Five of seven judges did not participate in the decisions.