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The U.S. District Judge presiding over the federal testosterone drug litigation has laid out an aggressive trial schedule for bellwether Androgel lawsuits, indicating that the first in a series of six claims will go before a jury in June 2017, with additional trials beginning every four weeks after that.
There are currently more than 6,000 testosterone lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, each involving similar claims that the makers of Androgel, Testim, Axiron and other popular treatments failed to adequately warn users about the risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or other injury.
Given the similar questions of fact and law presented in the claims, complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation. Since June 2014, the cases have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois to prevent duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings, the parties have been preparing a group of Androgel cases for early trial dates, since that is the most widely used testosterone replacement therapy. While the outcomes of these early bellwether trials will not be binding on other claims, they will be closely watched by those involved in the litigation, as they may help gauge how juries will respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
In an amended case management order (PDF) issued on October 27, Judge Kennelly called for the first Androgel testosterone lawsuit to go to trial on June 5, 2017. After that, he wants a nearly-continuous flow of trials, indicating that he expects each trial to take about two to three weeks.
“The Court’s intention since the entry of the first version of this AbbVie bellwether trial schedule has been to try these six bellwether trials continuously, in immediate succession to each other, with a short break between each trial,” Judge Kennelly wrote. “Consistent with the Court’s stated intention to try cases continuously starting on June 5, 2017, counsel are directed to be ready to try each of the bellwether cases at approximately four-week intervals starting on that date. That should give counsel approximately a week after each trial to finalize preparation for the next trial.”
A lawsuit filed by Jeffrey Konrad has been identified as the first case that will be tried, involving a myocardial infarction following use of Androgel.
Following the series of Androgel bellwether trials, Judge Kennelly is expected to schedule a second group of bellwether trials involving Testim lawsuits, Axiron lawsuits, Androderm lawsuits and claims involving other drugs.
If the parties fail to reach testosterone settlements or another resolution for the litigation following the bellwether trials, Judge Kennelly could begin remanding hundreds of individual trials to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates.