Fleet Requests Centralization of Phospho-soda Kidney Injury Lawsuits

C.B. Fleet Company, Inc. has filed a motion with the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation requesting that all Fleet Phospho-soda lawsuits filed in various federal courts throughout the country be consolidated and centralized for pretrial litigation in the Northern District of Ohio as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

Fleet Phospho-soda is an over-the-counter oral sodium phosphate solution sold by C.B. Fleet Company, Inc. as a laxative. However, over the past 15 years, Fleet has marketed the product for use at double doses as a bowel cleanser during colonoscopy prep.

All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations where plaintiffs took double doses of Fleet Phospho-soda for colonoscopy prep and suffered a form of kidney damage known as acute phosphate nephropathy.

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In December 2008, the FDA indicated that oral sodium phosphate products like Fleet’s laxative increase the risk of kidney injury when taken at high doses. The same day the FDA released their statement, a recall of Fleet Phospho-soda was issued by C.B. Fleet Co., removing the product from the market.

According to a Motion filed with the MDL panel on April 15, 2009, there are currently 63 lawsuits over Fleet Phospho-soda prep products pending throughout the United States, with at least 38 pending in federal court spread among 16 districts in 13 different states.

Fleet has requested that all of the federal cases be consolidated for pretrial litigation and transferred to one judge to avoid inconsistent rulings, duplicative discovery and to serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses. They proposed that the cases be consolidated in the Northern District of Ohio or any other district which the Panel deems appropriate.

A hearing for oral arguments on the Motion is scheduled for May 28, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Although some of the pending Fleet Phospho-soda lawsuits date back to 2004, the number of new cases filed has increased substantially since the recall was issued, with 23 cases involving 36 separate unrelated claims filed since December 2008.

In a memorandum supporting their Motion, Fleet pointed out to the Panel that a number of lawyers are running advertisements for Phospho-soda kidney injury cases, and they anticipate that even more cases will be filed in the future.

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