MRI Contrast NSF Lawsuit Trial Schedule Delayed 90 Days

According to a new Case Management Order entered by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who is handling the consolidated gadolinium MRI contrast agent lawsuits filed by individuals diagnosed with Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF), the discovery and trial schedule for the bellwether cases will be delayed 90 days.

Approximately 300 lawsuits filed in federal court against the manufacturers of the five different types of gadolinium based contrast agents used during MRI and MRA scans have been consolidated and centralized before Judge Polster in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis, which is also often referred to as Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy (NFD), is a progressive condition associated with the development of hard and thick skin that covers the joints and severely restrict movements. The only known cause of NSF is the use of gadolinium based contrast agents among individuals with moderate to severe kidney failure.

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Lawyers representing individuals who have filed NSF lawsuits have been pushing for an aggressive trial schedule, as many of the plaintiffs are very sick and may not survive lengthy litigation.

The initial Case Management Order issued by the Court called for each side to designate 10 of the filed MRI lawsuits by November 14, 2008 to be part of an initial trial pool of cases to undergo early discovery. These cases, which are referred to as bellwether cases since they are selected to be representative of the issues that will be presented throughout the litigation, would later be narrowed down to 10 cases which were to be scheduled for trial by mid-2009.

As a result of problems confirming which plaintiffs received which of the five different types of gadolinium MRI contrast agents, the Court vacated the November 14 selection date, as the manufacturers argued that they were unable to select cases since they were not certain which products were used during which procedures.

According to the new Case Management Order, the parties will submit a joint list of all cases where they agree that there has been a “good faith substantiation of product identification” by December 19, 2008, and each side will then select their 10 cases from this list by January 23, 2009. As a result of the delay, all dates on the prior scheduling order for the completion of case specific discovery and motions, have been extended 90 days.

This will likely mean that the first MRI contact NSF lawsuits will not reach a jury until Fall 2009.


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