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The U.S. District Judge presiding over hundreds of federal Abilify gambling lawsuits indicates that the parties have reached an agreement to settle three “bellwether” cases, which were set for trials to begin this summer.
Terms of the Abilify settlements have not been disclosed, but U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers has suspended all deadlines in the cases, and indicates that within the next 30 days, the Defendants must pay all settlement proceeds to the Plaintiffs, and the Plaintiffs must execute full releases, at which time the trial dates will be removed from the Court’s docket.
There are currently more than 800 product liability lawsuits pending before Judge Rodgers, each raising similar allegations that Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community about the risk of compulsive gambling from Abilify.
Plaintiffs maintain that they may have avoided devastating consequences from Abilify gambling if warnings had been provided about the importance of monitoring for signs of uncontrollable urges to engage in impulsive behaviors.
As a result of the lack of warnings, plaintiffs indicate that they have suffered severe gambling losses, irreparable damage to their reputation, employment and family relationships, as well as general damage to their financial security and overall quality of life.
The settled cases were part of a series of early trial dates set to begin on June 18, August 6 and August 27, which were being closed watched by other parties involved in the litigation, as they were designed to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout other cases.
Last week, Judge Rodgers ordered the parties to meet with a Settlement Master to continue attempts to settle the Abilify cases before trial.
In an order (PDF) issued on April 28, Judge Rodgers indicates that the mediation was successful, and the parties have resolved their disputes.
It is unclear what impact the resolution of these three bellwether cases may have on attempts to reach other Abilify gambling settlements, which would avoid the need for hundreds of individual cases to be set for trial. However, Judge Rodgers has already indicated that a second round of early bellwether trials will be scheduled, with the parties submitting competing proposals in late March about the process for selecting cases that will be eligible for those trial dates.
At the same time, additional Abilify cases are pending in parallel state court litigation in New Jersey, where Superior Court Judge James De Luca has established a bellwether track where the first trials could begin by the end of this year.