The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has postponed a hearing scheduled for tomorrow, at which lawyers were to present oral arguments over whether all Lipitor diabetes lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system should be centralized before one judge for coordinated handling.
According to an Order (PDF) issued yesterday, a hearing scheduled for Thursday, January 30, 2014 in New Orleans has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for a later date.
Due to inclement weather in the area, which resulted in the closing of the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport through today, the JPML was forced to cancel arguments involving a request to establish a Lipitor MDL, or multi-district litigation, for diabetes cases filed by women throughout the federal court system.
While temperatures are predicted to hit the 50s in New Orleans on Thursday, no announcement has been made for when the oral arguments will be heard.
Lipitor MDL Would Consolidate Cases Throughout United States
Over the past year, hundreds of women have filed Lipitor cases in U.S. District Courts nationwide, alleging that they developed type 2 diabetes after using the popular cholesterol drug.
All of the complaints involve similar allegations that Pfizer knew or should have known about the diabetes risk from Lipitor, yet failed to provide women and the medical community with adequate warnings and information.
In July 2013, the U.S. JPML denied a similar request to centralize all Lipitor cases, finding that there were an insufficient number of lawsuits pending at that time to justify establishing consolidated 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 complaints brought in different U.S. District Courts, a group of plaintiffs filed a renewed request for centralization in October 2013, arguing that it is necessary to centralize 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.
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.