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Elmiron Lawyers to Meet with MDL Judge Via Zoom For Initial Case Management Conference

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After the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided last month to consolidate and centralize all Elmiron vision loss lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, the U.S. District Judge appointed to preside over the pretrial proceedings has scheduled an initial conference for January 8, to meet virtually through Zoom with lawyers involved in the litigation.

Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium or PPS) is a prescription medication that has been on the market since 1996, as a treatment for the painful bladder condition known as interstitial cystitis. However, in recent months, the drug makers have faced a growing number of product liability lawsuits brought by users left with permanent vision problems and retina damage, including difficulty adapting in dark light, spots or floaters in the vision, as well as blindness.

Each of the claims raise similar questions of fact and law, over the link between Elmiron and vision problems, known as pigmentary maculopathy, as well as whether Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary withheld warnings and information about the importance of monitoring long-term users of the medication.

Following new warnings required by federal regulators last year, about 100 product liability lawsuits have already been filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide. However, as Elmiron lawyers continue to investigate and file potential claims over the coming months and years, it is widely expected that several thousand cases will be brought throughout the federal court system.

To reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts and serve the convenience of common witnesses, parties and the judicial system, the U.S. JPML issued an order last month transferring all Elmiron cases to the District of New Jersey, where U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti will preside over coordinated pretrial proceedings.

In a case management order (PDF) issued on December 18, Judge Martinotti outlined the early steps in organizing the proceedings and indicated that an initial case management conference will be held on January 8, via a Zoom videoconference, in order to maintain safety precautions amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Judge Martinotti ordered lawyers involved in Elmiron litigation to meet and confer before the conference in order to achieve as much consensus as possible on a proposed discovery plan, suggested schedule for joinder of parties, as well as other items on the agenda.

He also called on plaintiffs and defendants’ attorneys to submit a brief written statement, of no more than three pages, on their preliminary understanding of the faces involved in the litigation as well as “critical factual and legal issues.” Those statements will not be considered binding by the court.

As part of the coordinated management, Judge Martinotti is expected to appoint a small group of Elmiron lawyers to serve in various leadership positions during the coordinated proceedings, taking actions that benefit all plaintiffs during discovery, hearings and a series of early bellwether trials that will be scheduled to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to the evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.

Following the coordinated proceedings in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), if Elmiron vision settlements or another resolution for the litigation is not reached, the claims may later be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates in future years.

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