Lawyers Assigned to Leadership Roles in Lawsuits Over Levaquin, Cipro, Avelox Nerve Problems

A small group of plaintiffs’ lawyers have been designated to serve in various leadership roles in the the federal litigation established for allĀ Levaquin lawsuits, Avelox lawsuits and Cipro lawsuits filed over nerve problems caused by the popular antibiotics.

There are currently at least 374 cases centralized in the federal court system involving individuals diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy following use of the fluoroquinolone-based antibiotics, alleging that manufacturers failed to adequately warn about the risk of long-term nerve problems suffered by some users.

The cases are currently consolidated for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim in the District of Minnesota, as part of a federal MDL or multidistrict litigation. The centralized litigation is designed to streamline discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

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Following a status conference on March 15, Judge Tunheim issued an order (PDF) that appoints a group of 18 different plaintiffs’ attorneys to serve in various leadership roles, taking certain actions during the pretrial proceedings that will benefit all plaintiffs who have brought a claim.

The order appoints two attorneys to serve as Co-Lead Counsel, five to a Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee (PEC), 10 to a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC), and one as Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel.

In complex pharmaceutical litigation, where a large number of individual claims have been filed on behalf of individuals who suffered similar injuries after using the same or similar medications, it is common for a small group of attorneys to conduct and coordinate the common discovery into generic issues that apply to all claims, argue motions before the Court and negotiate potential stipulations or settlements in the cases.

All of the claims pending before Judge Tunheim involve similar allegations, indicating that the manufacturers failed to adequately warn about the link between permanent nerve problems and fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

The litigation has emerged since the FDA required makers of all fluoroquinolones to update the warning labels in August 2013, adding information about the risk that nerve damage may be permanent.

While prior warnings provided with drugs like Levaquin, Avelox and Cipro indicated that some users experienced temporary nerve damage in rare cases, plaintiffs allege that the drug makers should have provided much stronger warnings and disclosed the risk of long-lasting nerve damage, which may last for months or even years.

Peripheral neuropathy involves damage to the nerves that may impair sensation, movement and other aspects of health. This may leave users with persistent pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness and sensitivity to light touches, temperature and motion in the arms and legs, as well as other problems that cause a major disruption to daily activities.

Plaintiffs allege that the makers of Levaquin, Avelox and Cipro should have provided these warnings years ago, noting that the first indication of a possible link between long-term peripheral neuropathy and fluoroquinolone antibiotics came in a study published in 2001. If adequate warnings had been provided about the risk of permanent neuropathy problems, plaintiffs indicate that they may have avoided painful and debilitating injuries.

It is expected that Judge Tunheim will eventually schedule a series of early test trials to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. While the outcome of these bellwether trials will not be binding on other cases, they may facilitate eventual negotiations to settle cases and avoid the need for hundreds of individual trials to be scheduled throughout the U.S.


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