The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Lipitor diabetes lawsuits has vacated a trial date set for early next year, canceling the first bellwether trial out of thousands of claims brought by women throughout the country.
There are currently at least 2,880 product liability lawsuits pending in the federal court system involving claims that women developed diabetes from Lipitor side effects, alleging that Pfizer failed to provide adequate warnings for users and the medical community.
All of the cases are centralized before U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in the District of South Carolina as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), where a series of “bellwether” trials were scheduled to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
The first Lipitor trial was scheduled to begin on January 13, 2016, involving a claim brought by Wilma Daniels, who indicates that she previously had a healthy weight and diet before she began taking Lipitor as a preventative measure to reduce her cholesterol levels and her risk of developing cardiovascular disease. However, instead, she indicates that she has been left with type 2 diabetes, which requires adherence to a special diet, regular monitoring of blood glucose levels and places her at risk of several serious health problems.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on December 11, Judge Gergel vacated the trial date in the Daniels case, due to pending briefing on the issue of general causation at various dosages of Lipitor.
Supplemental briefing on Pfizer’s motion to exclude certain causation experts will not be completed until February 19, 2016, and Judge Gergel indicates that the trial date in Daniels will be reset, if needed, after the Court addresses the motion for summary judgment in the case.
While the outcome of the Daniels bellwether trial will not be binding on other claims in the Lipitor diabetes litigation, it was being closely watched by lawyers involved in the cases. If Pfizer fails to obtain dismissals in the litigation or reach Lipitor settlements to resolve large numbers of cases, the drug maker could face hundreds of additional trials in courts throughout the U.S. involving similar allegations.