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Xarelto Bellwether Lawsuits Selected for Trials in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas

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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Xarelto lawsuits has selected four cases out of thousands of claims pending nationwide to serve as the first bellwether cases, with a series of trials expected to begin early next year to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.

There are currently more than 7,200 product liability lawsuits centralized before U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana, each involving similar allegations that side effects of Xarelto caused users to suffer severe, and often fatal, bleeding complications.

Given the similar questions of fact and law presented in the claims, the cases have been centralized for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings, as well as a series of early “bellwether” trials, which are expected to begin in February 2017.

While the outcome of these early test cases will not be binding on other plaintiffs, they will be closely watched by the parties involved and could influence eventual negotiations to reach Xarelto settlements necessary to avoid thousands of individual cases going before juries nationwide.

In an order (PDF) issued August 12, Judge Fallon announced that a complaint filed on behalf of Joseph Boudreaux, Jr. will serve as the first bellwether trial, with the second case involving a complaint filed on behalf of Joseph Orr, Jr. Each of those Xarelto trials will occur in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

In a second order (PDF) issued on August 16, Judge Fallon indicates that the third bellwether trial will involve a complaint filed on behalf of Dora Mingo, which will go to trial in Mississippi. That trial will be followed by a fourth bellwether case, involving claims brought on behalf of the Estate of William Henry, which will go to trial in Texas.

The cases were selected from a representative pool of claims, which raise issues and injuries similar to those brought in a large number of other cases pending in the federal Xarelto MDL.

Joseph Boudreaux originally filed his complaint in December 2014, indicating that he was prescribed Xarelto to reduce the risk of stroke due to atrial fibrillation. Less than a month after he began taking the drug in January 2014, Boudreaux alleges that Xarelto caused him to suffer severe gastrointestinal bleeding that resulted in hospitalization and the need for several blood transfusions.

Joseph Orr brough his complaint following the death of Sharyn Orr, who was prescribed Xarelto in May 2015, also due to the risk of clots associated iwth atrial fibrillation. Only a month later, Sharyn Orr suffered a brain bleed, or hemorrhagic stroke, which resulted in her death 10 days later.

The complaints filed on behalf of Mingo and Henry, which will go to trial in Mississippi and Texas, respectively, each involve allegations that the drug caused severe gastrointestinal bleeding.

Xarelto Bleeding Problems

Xarelto (rivaroxoaban) is a new-generation anticoagulant that was introduced in 2011 as a replacement for Coumadin (warfarin), which has been the go-to anticoagulant treatment for decades.

The drug is part of a new class of medications, which are have been promoted as easier to use than warfarin. However, since the drugs have hit the market, there have been a large number of reports involving severe and sometimes fatal bleeding problems with Xarelto and other members of this new class, including Pradaxa and Eliquis.

Each of the lawsuits involved in the Xarelto MDL raise nearly identical allegations, indicating that users and the medical community were provided inadequate warnings about the problems with uncontrollable bleeding on Xarelto, and the fact that the anticoagulant lacked a safe and effective reversal agent to allow doctors to quickly stop the blood thinning effects of the drug.

While all blood thinners carry a risk of bleeding injury, the side effects of warfarin can be quickly reversed with a widely known antidote of bleeding occurs. However, there was no Xarelto reversal agent when the drug was introduced. Plaintiffs allege that the drug makers failed to adequately warn doctors about the lack of an antidote.

Similar claims were raised in the litigation over Pradaxa, which was introduced in October 2010, one year before Xarelto hit the market.

More than 4,000 Pradaxa lawsuits were ultimately filed by users of that drug who suffered bleeding injuries. Following several years of litigation, the manufacturer of that medication ultimately agreed to pay $650 million in Pradaxa settlements, with an average of about $150,000 per claim.

As Xarelto bleeding lawyers continue to review potential cases for individuals prescribed the anticoagulant throughout the United States, the number of complaints has surpassed the number of claims involved in the Pradaxa litigation, as the drug has become more widely used in recent years.

If settlements are not reached following the series of bellwether trials, which are designed to be representative of other claims, hundreds of individual cases may be remanded back to the U.S. District Courts where they were originally filed for separate trial dates.

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