Lipitor MDL Hearing Rescheduled for February 6 in New Orleans

After postponing oral arguments originally set for today over whether to consolidate all Lipitor diabetes cases, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) rescheduled the hearing for February 6 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

As a result of Winter Storm Leon, which dumped snow, ice and unusually cold temperatures in the southern United States, a JPML hearing scheduled for January 30 in New Orleans was cancelled earlier this week, after all flights into the city were shut down.

In a notice (PDF) posted by the U.S. JPML late yesterday, oral arguments scheduled for the January hearing date will now take place at the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans on February 6, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

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Panel to Consider Whether to Centralize Lipitor Litigation

One of the major cases on the agenda for this JPML hearing is a request to established coordinated proceedings in the federal court system for all Lipitor lawsuits filed on behalf of women diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after using the popular cholesterol drug, known as an MDL or Multidistrict Litigation.

Hundreds of complaints have been filed in different U.S. District Courts throughout the country, which all involve similar allegations that Pfizer failed to adequately warn users or the medical community about the diabetes risk from Lipitor.

In July 2013, the U.S. JPML denied a similar request to establish a Lipitor MDL, finding that there were an insufficient number of lawsuits pending at that time to justify centralization of the litigation before one judge.proceedings in the federal court system. At that time, there were only a few dozen complaints pending nationwide.

Following a continued increase in the number of new Lipitor lawsuits filed over the past six months, a group of plaintiffs filed a renewed request for centralization in October 2013, arguing that it is now necessary to consolidate the cases before one judge to avoid duplicative discovery, conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the courts.

Lipitor (atorvastatin) is one of the most widely used brand-name medications in the United States, and it is widely expected that several thousand cases will ultimately be filed throughout the federal court system as lawyers continue to review claims for women diagnosed with diabetes.

If the U.S. JPML agrees to establish the centralized proceedings at this time, they will determine the most appropriate venue and judge to coordinate discovery and early “bellwether” trials, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout a number of cases.


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