The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Plavix lawsuits has ordered that a group of 26 cases be prepared for early trial dates, which are not expected to go before juries until the second half of 2017.
Since February 2013, all product liability cases filed throughout the federal court system involving injuries allegedly caused by side effects of Plavix have been centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the District of New Jersey, as part of an MDL or Multidistrict Litigation (MDL).
The case all involve similar claims that Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis failed to adequately warn consumers or the medical community about risks associated with Plavix, including gastrointestinal bleeding, severe ulcers, a rare blood disorder known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic pupura (TTP) and other injuries.
There are currently more than 250 cases pending before Judge Wolfson to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the claims, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
In a case management order (PDF) issued last month, Judge Wolfson indicated that discovery in a group of 26 bellwether cases will be completed by October 31, 2016, with depositions of plaintiffs and non-prescribing treating doctors completed by April 15, 2016. Depositions of prescribing doctors will be conducted between April 1, 2016 and July 29, 2016.
Following expert witness discovery and any motions for summary judgment, Judge Wolfson indicates that any remaining cases not dismissed by November 1, 2016 will comprise a Trial Pool, from which the first case will be selected for trial beginning in July 2017.
While the outcome of bellwether trials are not binding on other Plavix cases, they will be closely watched by those involved in the litigation to see how juries respond to arguments and testimony that may be repeated throughout a number of other trials. The process may also help the parties reach Plavix settlements that would avoid the need for hundreds of individual trials in courts throughout the country.