Elmiron Lawsuits Filed By More than 360 Users Left With Vision Damage
Johnson & Johnson now faces more than 360 Elmiron lawsuits brought in federal and state courts nationwide, each involving similar allegations that the bladder drug left users with permanent vision damage, and the size and scope of the litigation is expected to increase dramatically over the next year.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, the federal Elmiron litigation has been consolidated for pretrial proceedings, with all cases centralized before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti in the District of New Jersey, where the Court has scheduled a “Science Day” for September to educate the court about the evidence linking Elmiron and vision damage.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on July 7, Judge Martinotti confirmed there are at least 310 cases already pending before him as part of a federal Elmiron MDL or multidistrict litigation, with another 51 lawsuits pending in New Jersey and Pennsylvania state courts. However, as Elmiron injury lawyers continue to review potential claims for long-term users of the interstitial cystitis drug who have experienced potential vision side effects, it is ultimately expected that more than 1,000 cases will be brought nationwide.
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Side effects of Elmiron have been associated with vision loss and retina damage known as pigmentary maculopathy.
To help promote potential Elmiron settlement negotiations, and avoid the need for hundreds of individual trials to be scheduled throughout the federal court system, Judge Martinotti has established a “bellwether” process, where a small group of representative claims will go through a case-specific discovery process and be prepared for early test trials, which are expected to begin in January 2023.
Throughout the pretrial proceedings, the Court will be asked to rule on a number of matters that will require background knowledge about science related to the bladder pain drug and eye issues experienced by plaintiffs throughout the litigation.
In a separate case management order (PDF) issued on July 16, Judge Martonitti outlined the rules and procedures for a “Science Day” which will be held on September 30, at which time the parties will make non-adversarial presentations designed to educate the Court.
Topics tol be covered during the hearing include background information on interstitial cystitis, which Elmiron was designed to treat, as well as other Elmiron uses, how the drug works, how Elmiron vision damage is diagnosed, as well as medical history and scientific literature on Elmiron.
Judge Martinotti has deemed the only records of the Science Day presentations will be those transcribed by a court reporter, and that presentations made by attorneys and experts will not be subject to cross examination or questioning by opposing counsel. In addition, the order lays out how much time will be allotted to presenters and set aside for questions from the courts, and how parties can attend either live or via remote access for interested counsel.
The information gleaned from the Science Day presentations may guide Judge Martinotti in any rulings or motions about evidence to be presented in the Elmiron bellwether trials, including decisions about what expert witness testimony may be presented to juries.
While the outcome of the early bellwether Elmiron trials being scheduled in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) will not be binding on other claims, the rulings will be closely watched by parties involved, and are expected to have a large impact on negotiations to reach Elmiron settlements for eye issues caused by the bladder drug.
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