Reglan Lawyers Appointed to Leadership Roles in NJ Litigation
A New Jersey judge has appointed several lawyers to serve in leadership roles as part of the centralized state court Reglan litigation, which has grown to include at least 53 product liability lawsuits claiming that the anti-nausea drug causes a rare movement disorder known as tardive dyskinesia.
In July, the New Jersey Supreme Court approved the centralized management of all Reglan lawsuits filed in the state before Judge Carol Higbee in Atlantic County. All of the suits involve similar allegations that the manufacturers of the name brand medication or generic equivalents, known as metoclopramide, failed to adequately research the side effects of Reglan or warn about the risk of the serious movement disorder, which can have a devastating impact on an individual’s quality of life.
Reglan (metoclopramide) is approved for the short-term treatment of gastrointestinal disorders like diabetic gastroparesis, gastroesphageal reflux (GERD) and delayed gastric emptying. However, it is often prescribed for longer periods of time due to the often chronic persistence of those ailments, which has been shown to increase the risk of the movement disorders.
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Reglan tardive dyskinesia is associated with repetitive and involuntary movements, particularly involving the lower face and limbs. Symptoms can include grimacing, chewing, smacking of lips, rapid eye movements and impaired finger movements. There is no known effective treatment of the disorder, and involuntary movements can become permanent, persisting even after use of the drug has stopped.
The first lawsuit over Reglan was filed in 1998, but the number of cases pending in state and federal courts throughout the United States has increased since the FDA ordered in February 2009 that the drug makers add a “black box” warning about tardive dyskinesia to all of the metoclopramide-based drugs.
According to a list of all Reglan suits pending in New Jersey as of September 25, nearly half of all cases pending in the state were filed within the past two months. As Reglan lawyers continue to review and investigate potential claims, the number of lawsuits filed is expected to continue to increase in the coming months, as the two year Reglan statute of limitations in many cases may expire in February 2011.
In a Case Management Order issued September 28, Judge Higbee appointed attorneys Theodore Oshman, Hunter J. Shkolnik and Wendy R. Fleishman to serve as co-liaison counsel for plaintiffs in the New Jersey litigation. In addition, Stewart Eisenberg and Mark Robinson were appointed as liaison counsel between plaintiffs’ attorneys in New Jersey and plaintiffs attorneys involved in similar Reglan litigation pending in Pennsylvania and California, respectively. Defense attorneys Lauren Handler and Frederick H. Fern were appointed to serve as liaison counsel for the brand name drug makers and generic Reglan manufacturers, respectively.
The plaintiff and defendant liaisons will perform services that benefit all Reglan lawyers representing plaintiffs and defendants, respectively, such as maintaining a document depository and complete records of all documents served in the cases, as well as receive and distribute pleadings, motions and orders to all parties.
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