Lawyers representing plaintiffs who have filed a Levaquin lawsuit in state court in New Jersey have requested that all cases be centralized with Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee in Atlantic County.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has been asked to provide mass tort treatment to all lawsuits over Levaquin filed against Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, involving allegations that side effects of the antibiotic caused users to suffer tendon ruptures and other permanent damage to their tendons.
Levaquin (levofloxacin) is an antibiotic that was first approved by the FDA in December 1996 to prevent infection by stopping reproduction of bacteria. It is available as an oral tablet, oral solution and as an injection.
Side effects of Levaquin have been shown to increase the risk of tendonitis and tendon ruptures, particularly involving the achilles tendon.
In July 2008, the FDA required that a “black box” warning be placed on Levaquin and similar antibiotics, which is the strongest warning that can be placed on a prescription medication, warning about the risk of tendon ruptures and other tendon problems.
According to the New Jersey Law Journal, the Acting Administrative Director of the Courts in New Jersey has notified the Bar about the application to accord mass-tort treatment to the Levaquin lawsuits and solicited comments about the request on or before June 5, 2009.
All of the individual Levaquin lawsuit complaints involve similar allegations that the manufacturers failed to adequately research their product or warn about the potential tendon side effects. Since there will likely be thousands of similar lawsuits involving Levaquin filed throughout New Jersey, plaintiffs lawyers argue that the cases should be centralized for handling.
An MDL, or multidistrict litigaiton, has already been established for all Levaquin lawsuits filed in federal district courts throughout the country, consolidating the suits for pretrial litigation before U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim in the District of Minnesota.
The federal cases were consolidated and centralized in June 2008, and a pretrial order issued earlier this year identified 15 cases that are going through case-specific discovery. The first bellwether Levaquin trial, which is designed to be representative of issues that will come up throughout other cases in the litigation, is currently scheduled to begin in August 2010.