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Arguments Over Centralization of Gadolinium Deposition Disease Cases to be Heard by JPML

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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will consider oral arguments on Thursday over whether to consolidate all gadolinium deposition disease lawsuits filed against the makers of MRI contrast agents before one federal judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings. 

Each of the complaints raise similar questions of fact and law, indicating that linear gadolinium-based contrast agents, such as Magnegist, Omniscan, MultHance and others, may accumulate inside the body and result in painful and debilitating injuries following an MRI or MRA exam.

Plaintiffs claim they have been left with various symptoms of a condition increasingly referred to as “gadolinium deposition disease,”, including persistent headaches, reduced cognitive function, thickening of the skin, bone and joint pain and other complication.

In a motion originally filed in July, plaintiffs’ lawyers requested that complaints filed throughout the federal court system be centralized in the Northern District of California to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the court system.

Several dozen complaints have been filed against six different companies who manufacturer gadolinium-based contrast agents, and plaintiffs suggest that the size and scope of the litigation is likely to increase rapidly over the coming months.

Each of the manufacturers have filed responses opposing the establishment of a gadolinium deposition disease MDL, arguing that there are too few plaintiffs’ law firms involved in the cases and too many different manufacturers to justify formally consolidating all of the different claims as part of a single multidistrict litigation (MDL)

A number of different law firms nationwide have filed responses in support of the motion in recent weeks, and Bayer Healthcare filed a supplemental response (PDF) on September 20, outlining arguments that will be made during the hearing later this week.

The manufacturer suggests that the increase in cases filed over the past few weeks by different law firms are just part of an effort to create a “facade of diversity among counsel,” and reiterates it’s position that it is premature to centralize the cases.

“Plaintiffs’counsel’s post-Motion predictions of thousands of future plaintiffs are a red herring,” according to the response. “As an initial matter, any filing of more cases doesnothing to cure the inherently individualized nature of these suits and their resulting unsuitability for MDL resolution. Furthermore, counsel’s unsubstantiated claim that additional law firms are waiting in the wings and ‘investigating’ cases raises the question why no one has prosecuted these claims for the last two years. It remains to be seen whether any of these cases will ever actually be filed outside of an MDL, and, if so, what new constellations of injuries these plaintiffs will allege.”

The U.S. JPML is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the motions from various plaintiffs and manufacturers on September 27, at the Phillip Burton U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco.

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