Thousands of plaintiffs who have Seroquel lawsuits pending in the federal Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) are calling for their cases be remanded back to District Courts throughout the country for individual trials.
All federal lawsuits over Seroquel, which involve claims that AstraZeneca failed to adequately warn about the risk of diabetes and other health problems linked to their atypical antipsychotic, have been consolidated for pretrial litigation before U.S. District Judge Anne Conway in the Middle District of Florida. Since 2008, cases from across the United States have been transferred to Judge Conway to avoid duplicative discovery on issues common to all cases, eliminate conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the witnesses, the parties and the courts.
Plaintiffs who have cases that were filed outside of the 11th Circuit, where the Middle District of Florida is situated, indicate that the MDL Court’s work is now complete and that the cases are ready to return back to the federal districts where they were originally filed for trial preparation.
In recent months, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which decides whether cases should be transferred to a pending MDL, has denied the transfer of nearly 1,000 cases filed in the Northern District of California after recognizing that the Seroquel MDL has “reached an advanced stage.”
In a motion filed April 20, Plaintiffs whose cases are on hold in the MDL point out if their claims are not remanded, they may reach trial substantially later than these recently filed cases, as well as future case filings in courts throughout the country.
Although AstraZeneca has maintained their intention to defend against the 26,000 lawsuits over the side effects of Seroquel that have been filed to date, the drug maker has opposed remand of claims for individual trials spread out throughout the country. Plaintiffs point out that “AstraZeneca has spent over $1 billion (in legal costs) in large part facilitating the defense strategy of delay.”
In November 2009, Judge Conway ordered both sides to meet with a mediator to see if there is any possibility for a Seroquel settlement, indicating that she would ask the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to remand cases for individual trials if a resolution for the claims could not be reached.
In their motion, Plaintiffs reminded the Court of AstraZeneca’s previously stated position that cases filed in the MDL are not “cases we would ever consider settling.” Plaintiffs also point out that there is no reason to assume that remanded cases cannot participate in any continuing alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and that justice would not be served by making these plaintiffs wait just because later ADR might produce a settlement.