Plaintiffs Renew Push for Consolidated Trial in Levaquin Bellwether Cases

As the first trials for lawsuits over tendon damage from Levaquin approach in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), Plaintiffs are renewing their request to have several of the “bellwether” cases consolidated for one trial. 

The renewed request for consolidation comes after a similar request was denied in December. However, the federal Judge presiding over the Levaquin litigation indicated at that time that he would be open to reconsidering a joint Levaquin trial at the close of discovery, once the factual underpinnings of each case and the legal issues to be presented at trial were more defined.

In documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the DIstrict of Minnesota earlier this month, Plaintiffs indicate that they are now better equipped to show the benefits of trying the cases at once and intend to renew their motion at a status conference scheduled for May 28.

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Plaintiffs are asking that three Levaquin lawsuits, involving cases filed by John Schedin, Calvin Christensen and Richard Kirkes, be combined for one jury trial. The lawsuits involve substantial similarities, including the fact that they are all males over the age of 70 who suffered Achilles tendinitis, Achilles tendon rupture or both after being prescribed 500 mg of Levaquin to treat a respiratory infection. They were also each prescribed a concomitant corticosteroid, suffered the Achilles tendon injury while still on Levaquin and the warnings about side effects of Levaquin at the time of each prescription were practically identical.

Levaquin (levofloxacin) is part of a class of medications known as fluoroquinolones, which was approved by the FDA in December 1996. It is prescribed to prevent infection by stopping the reproduction of bacteria. However, it has also been found to be toxic to the tendons, leading to an increased risk of tendon damage, including debilitating ruptures of the Achilles tendon.

All lawsuits over Levaquin tendon problems filed in various federal district courts throughout the United States are centralized before Judge John Tunheim for pretrial litigation as part of the MDL. The cases involve similar allegations that the drug maker failed to adequately warn about the increased risk of tendon ruptures and other tendon injuries that can occur from side effects of Levaquin.

Earlier this year, six tendon damage lawsuits over Levaquin were designated for early trials to help gauge how juries will respond to evidence and testimony that is likely to be presented in hundreds of other similar Levaquin suits. Known as “bellwether” cases, these early trials may help the parties work towards a Levaquin settlement or other resolution for the litigation.

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