Fluoroquinolone Nerve Damage Lawyers to be Appointed to Leadership Roles in MDL

As a growing number of Levaquin lawsuits, Avelox lawsuits and Cipro lawsuits continue to be filed throughout the federal court by individuals diagnosed with permanent nerve damage, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation is being asked to appoint a group of lawyers who will serve in various leadership roles in the recently established multidistrict litigation (MDL). 

There are currently at least 360 complaints filed throughout the federal court system over the side effects of antibiotics that are part of a class of medications known as fluoroquinolones, indicating that the makers of Levaquin, Avelox and Cipro failed to adequately warn users about the risk of long-term nerve problems known as peripheral neuropathy.

As lawyers continue to review and file cases for individuals nationwide, it is ultimately expected that several thousand complaints will be included in MDL proceedings established before U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim in the District of Minnesota, where all cases filed throughout the federal court system have been centralized to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

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In a joint agenda (PDF) filed in advance of a status conference scheduled before Judge Tunheim this afternoon, the parties have asked that the Court discuss the appointment of lead counsel and a steering committee for the plaintiffs, as well as liaison counsel for both parties.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings in complex pharmaceutical litigation, it is common for a small group of attorneys to serve in leadership roles, conducting common discovery into generic issues that apply to all claims, arguing motions before the Court and negotiating stipulations or settlements in the cases. These lawyers will take actions that benefit all plaintiffs in the litigation.

All of the fluoroquinolone nerve damage lawsuits pending before Judge Tunheim involve similar allegations, claiming that individuals developed permanent peripheral neuropathy after using the popular antibiotics.

The litigation has emerged since the FDA required makers of all fluoroquinolone-based antibiotics to update the warning labels in August 2013, adding information about the risk that nerve damage may be permanent.

While prior warnings provided with drugs like Levaquin, Avelox and Cipro indicated that some users experienced temporary nerve damage in rare cases, plaintiffs allege that the drug makers should have provided much stronger warnings and disclosed the risk of long-lasting nerve damage, which may last for months or even years.

Peripheral neuropathy involves damage to the nerves that may impair sensation, movement and other aspects of health. This may leave users with persistent pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness and sensitivity to light touches, temperature and motion in the arms and legs, as well as other problems that cause a major disruption to daily activities.

Plaintiffs allege that the makers of Levaquin, Avelox and Cipro should have provided these warnings years ago, noting that the first indication of a possible link between long-term peripheral neuropathy and fluoroquinolone antibiotics came in a study published in 2001. If adequate warnings had been provided about the risk of permanent neuropathy problems, plaintiffs indicate that they may have avoided painful and debilitating injuries.

In addition to addressing the appointment of lawyers to various leadership rules, other agenda items that the parties ask Judge Tunheim to address during the status conference set for this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. include the status of federal and state court filings, the status of pending motions for remand and the entry of deadlines for proposed protective orders, discovery protocals, a case management plan and the selection of early bellwether trials.

It is expected that Judge Tunheim will eventually schedule a series of early test trials to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. While the outcome of these bellwether trials will not be binding on other cases, they may facilitate eventual negotiations to settle cases and avoid the need for hundreds of individual trials to be scheduled throughout the U.S.


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