U.S. District Judge Garrett E. Brown, Jr., who is presiding over all federal Fosamax femur fracture lawsuits, has appointed a number of lawyers to serve in leadership roles in the recently formed multidistrict litigation (MDL).
These attorneys will perform certain actions during the coordinated pretrial litigation that will benefit all plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit over a fractured femur from Fosamax, a popular osteoporosis medication manufactured by Merck & Co.
In May, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered that all complaints involving fractured bones on Fosamax will be transferred to Judge Brown in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation. All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations that side effects of Fosamax increase the risk of atypical femur fractures, which can occur with little or no trauma at all.
Plaintiffs argue that Merck failed to properly research the medication or adequately warn consumers. The FDA required new warnings about the risk of Fosamax thigh bone fractures in October 2010, and a growing number of Fosamax lawyers throughout the United States have been reviewing and filing lawsuits since then on behalf of individuals who suffered a sudden femur fracture while taking the medication.
Although Fosamax is designed to strengthen the bones and reduce the risk of fractures associated with osteoporosis, long-term use of the medication has been linked to a risk of these rare, spontaneous fractures of the femur. Consumers are now warned that they should seek immediate medical attention if they experience groin pain, which may occur several weeks before a complete fracture while on Fosamax.
At the time the MDL was formed, there were 36 Fosamax fracture lawsuits pending in federal district courts throughout the United States. Since that time, about 24 additional cases have been transferred to the MDL. In addition, a larger number of cases have been filed in state court in New Jersey and other states throughout the United States.
In a Case Management Order issued late last month, Judge Brown appointed the law firms of Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein Brody & Agnello, P.C. and Seeger Weiss, LLP to the position of co-liaison counsel. On July 14, he appointed 10 attorneys to form a plaintiffs steering committee that includes James E. Cecchi, Wesley Chadwick Cook, Christopher A. Seeger, Mark P. Robinson, Jr., Fred Thompson, Victoria J. Maniatis, Frank E. Piscitelli, Jr., Leonard A. Davis, Arnold Levin, James R. Dugan and David J. Dickens.
The plaintiff liaisons will perform services that benefit all Fosamax fracture lawyers representing plaintiffs, such as maintaining a document depository and complete records of all documents served in the cases, as well as receive and distribute pleadings, motions and orders.
The MDL will have no impact on Fosamax lawsuits over jaw problems, known as osteonecrosis of the jaw, which will remain centralized as part of a different MDL in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, before U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan.
There are currently more than 900 Fosamax jaw lawsuits consolidated in New York, as part of an MDL that was established in August 2006. Fosamax fracture lawsuits were previously excluded from that MDL, because it was determined that the evidence of general causation leading to femur fractures would likely differ substantially from cases dealing with jaw bone damage.