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Gadolinium MRI Constrast Injury Lawsuits to Proceed Without Centralization, JPML Determines

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Although a growing number of MRI contrast dye lawsuits have been filed throughout the federal courts system, each involving allegations that users suffered painful and debilitating injuries from gadolinium deposits left in their body, a panel of federal judges has determined that formal consolidation is not appropriate at this time.

Several dozen complaints have been filed throughout the federal court system against six different manufacturers of gadolinium-based MRI contrast agents, each involving claims for personal injury resulting from retention of the toxic metal following an MRI among individuals with normal kidney function.

Plaintiffs indicate that they have been left with various complaints, including persistent headaches, reduced cognitive function, thickening of the skin, bone and joint pain, as well as other complications associated with a condition now referred to as a gadolinium deposition disease injury.

To reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial schedules and serve the convenience of common parties, witnesses and the judicial system, plaintiffs requested that cases filed in different U.S. District Courts nationwide be centralized before one judge, as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

Following oral arguments presented late last month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued an order denying transfer (PDF) on October 10, indicating that there are currently too few plaintiffs and too many different manufacturers involved. In addition, the panel noted that the gadolinium MRI contrast injuries were too varied to justify centralized pretrial proceedings.

“We find movants have failed to demonstrate that any common questions of fact and law are sufficiently complex or numerous to justify centralization,” the JPML wrote in its decision. “In particular, the injuries alleged in each case appear to be highly plaintiff-specific, and the actions involve GBCAs manufactured by one or more of four different defendant groups, involving different formulations.”

Although plaintiffs suggested that the size and scope of the litigation is expected to rapidly increase over the coming months, the panel also noted that most of the cases currently involve a single law firm working as co-counsel with other attorneys on the cases, suggesting that informal coordination can avoid duplicative discovery and inconsistent pretrial rulings.

As a result of the decision, lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system will proceed as individual claims in the U.S. District Courts where they were filed. The JPML also noted that a judge in the District of Arizona has begun proceedings to address general causation for a MRI gadolinium injury, which may help inform other parties and promote settlement or another resolution for the litigation with out centralizing the cases as part of an MDL.

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