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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Invokana lawsuits indicates that the first “bellwether” trial will begin in September 2018, to help gauge how juries may respond to claims that the manufacturers failed to adequately warn about the risks associated with the new-generation diabetes treatment.
Since December 2016, all product liability lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical subsidiary over injuries allegedly caused by side effects of Invokana have been consolidated in New Jersey as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
There are currently more than 230 claims centralized before U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the judicial system. However, as Invokana lawyers continue to review and file cases in the coming months and years, it is ultimately expected that there will be several thousand claims included in the litigation.
Each of the complaints raise similar allegations that Johnson & Johnson and Janssen placed their desire for profits before consumer safety by withholding information about serious health risks linked to the medication, including a risks of diabetic ketoacidosis, kidney failure, heart attacks and other injuries.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, Judge Martinotti has indicated that a small group of “bellwether” cases will be prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout a number of claims.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on May 1, the schedule for selecting the bellwether cases was outlined, indicating that the court expects that all pretrial motions will be complete for initial trials to begin in September 2018.
The order calls for parties to submit a proposal identifying the process for selecting bellwether cases by June 1, an agreement on the number of cases for the proposed bellwether trial pool by August 31, and core discovery for those bellwether cases is scheduled to take place between September 1 and December 15.
The order also calls for each side to provide recommendations for the trial pool cases themselves by January 5, 2018, indicating that court intends to select three bellwether trial cases by January 19, 2018.
Following the test trials, if the manufacturer fails to reach Invokana settlement agreements or another resolution for the cases, hundreds of individual claims may be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate trial dates.