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A group of six cases involving compulsive gambling problems associated with Abilify are being prepared for trial next summer, as part of a “bellwether” process designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
There are currently more than 2,000 Abilify gambling cases pending in the federal court system, each involving similar allegations that Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community that their atypical antipsychotic drug may cause users to experience sudden and uncontrollable urges to gamble or engage in other destructive behaviors.
Plaintiffs each maintain that they could have avoided devastating financial losses and damage to their families if information had been provided about the link between Abilify and gambling addictions, which lawsuits typically indicate emerged shortly after starting use of the drug or changing dosage.
Earlier this year a series of three trials were scheduled, but the parties settled those Abilify cases weeks before they were set to go before juries.
After the drug makers failed to reach a global Abilify settlement structure to resolve large numbers of cases in the litigation, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation selected a second group of cases that were prepared for trial on an expedited basis
In an order (PDF) issued last week, the Court outlined the discovery schedule for six cases selected for a “fast-tracked discovery and trial,” including complaints filed by Bruce Bletz, Licente Harned, Christine Kennedy, Annette Northcutt, Louis Ortiz and Valerie Stingley.
Case specific discovery in the cases will begin in January 2019, and must be completed by March 15, 2019. Expert depositions must then be completed by April 29, with the Court indicating that trials will begin in the Summer of 2019.
The parties are scheduled to meet for a case management conference in late January 2019, and it is expected individual trial dates will be set in a separate order.
While the outcomes of these bellwether cases will not binding on other Abilify gambling claim, if the parties fail to reach an agreement to settle or otherwise resolve the litigation after the trials, large numbers of individual cases may be remanded to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates.