Phospho Soda Lawsuits Mount Following Fleet Recall

According to documents filed last week in federal court, approximately 550 claims have been presented to C.B. Fleet Co. indicating that individuals intend to file a Fleet Phospho-soda lawsuit alleging that severe kidney damage was suffered after using Fleet’s over-the-counter laxative as a bowel cleanser before a colonoscopy examination.

Although litigation over Fleet Phospho-soda dates back to 2004, the company has faced an influx of new complaints and claims after removing the product from the market in late last year.

A Fleet Phospho soda recall was issued on December 11, 2008, the same day the FDA warned that over-the-counter oral sodium phosphate solutions should not be used to clear out the bowels, as high doses could increase the risk of users developing a form of kidney damage known as acute phosphate nephropathy. This could also lead to kidney failure, dialysis treatment, the need for a kidney transplant or death.

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There are currently more than 100 Phospho soda lawsuits pending in various courts throughout the country, with most of the cases consolidated in an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The cases were centralized in June before U.S. District Judge Ann Aldrich for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Lawyers for plaintiffs and defendants filed case status briefs on August 13, pursuant to an earlier pretrial order issued by the Court. In addition to estimating that approximately 550 claims have been noticed to Fleet, plaintiffs indicated that they are aware of more than 120 cases that resolved by negotiations with Fleet prior to the Phospho-soda litigation being consolidated.

Since the recall, hundreds of new claims have been presented as Fleet Phospho-soda lawyers have stepped up advertisements for potential claimants. As these claims are filed in various federal district courts throughout the United States, they will be transferred to the Northern District of Ohio for coordinated handling as part of the MDL during pretrial proceedings.

According to documents filed by lawyers for C.B. Fleet, the new claims arise out of alleged ingestion dates that span from 1998 to December 2008, but they claim many may involve medical conditions either not associated with the use of Fleet Phospho soda or that could result from any number of other factors. They suggested that the large number of claims, and the need to separate viable claims from ones that have no merit, could threaten to overwhelm the available insurance coverage.

Since the first case involving Fleet Phospho-soda kidney damage was filed in 2004, only one lawsuit has actually gone to trial, and that case resolved after only three days in California state court.

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