Master Complaint Filed for Lipitor Lawsuits in Federal MDL

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Lipitor lawsuits brought against Pfizer by women diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after using the popular cholesterol drug has established a procedure to streamline the filing of new cases in the multidistrict litigation (MDL).

Pfizer currently faces more than 700 diabetes lawsuits over Lipitor, which have been centralized in the federal court system before U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in the District of South Carolina to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

All of the complaints involve similar allegations that Pfizer failed to adequately warn about the risk of women developing diabetes from Lipitor side effects, and it is ultimately expected that several thousand cases will be brought in the federal Lipitor MDL in the coming months and years.

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In a case management order (PDF) issued June 2, Judge Gergel approved the use of a Master Complaint and Short Form Complaint to standardize the process of filing additional lawsuits against Pfizer directly into the MDL.

Plaintiffs have now filed a Master Complaint (PDF), which outlines all of the common allegations raised in the Lipitor diabetes cases.

Judge Gergel indicates that all future complaints filed by women throughout the federal court system shall be initiated using a short form complaint, which adopts the specific allegations of the master complaint and outlines certain case-specific details surrounding the plaintiffs’ use of Lipitor and diabetes problems experienced. For all previously filed cases, Judge Gergel has indicated that a short form complaints must be filed over the next 90 days.

The Master Complaint involves counts against Pfizer for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, negligent design, design defect, failure to warn, breach of warranty, fraud, unjust enrichment and loss of consortium. Some of the cases include charges of wrongful death as well.

Lipitor Diabetes Lawsuits

In complex pharmaceutical litigation, where a large number of claims have been presented involving similar injuries caused by a prescription medication, it is common for the cases to be coordinated during pretrial proceedings as the Lipitor cases are.

As the number of cases continues to grow, it is expected that a small number of lawsuits will be selected as bellwether cases, which will be prepared for early trial dates in the MDL to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be offered throughout the litigation.

Although the outcomes of these bellwether trials are not binding on other cases, they may facilitate negotiations to reach a Lipitor settlement agreement that avoids the needs for hundreds of individual trials to be scheduled throughout the country.

Each of the complaints involved in the MDL raises similar allegations that Pfizer knew or should have known about the potential link between Lipitor and diabetes, yet withheld information from consumers and the medical community while turning the medication into one of the most widely used brand name drugs in the United States.

In February 2012, the FDA required new diabetes warnings for Lipitor and other similar statins, informing users for the first time that they may face an increased risk of changes to blood glucose levels. However, plaintiffs allege that Pfizer was aware of the possible risk of diabetes long before these warnings were issued, with some studies connecting statins to diabetes date as far back as 2004.


  • LindaAugust 10, 2014 at 12:25 am

    I had a heart attack in 2008 and I was put on lipitor. I was on that for about four years. I had to get a family doctor and he wanted a complete blood work-up. That is when he found it, my sugar was 260. He immediately put me on metformin for my sugar. I will probably be on it the rest of my life.

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