Bellwether Jury Trial Underway for Xarelto Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The second in a series of early Xarelto bellwether trials is underway in New Orleans, involving a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of a woman who allegedly suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage due to Xarelto.

Opening statements began late last week, for a case over the death of Sharyn Orr, who passed away in May 2015 after suffering severe and uncontrollable bleeding after being prescribed the controversial anticoagulant.

The trial will involve claims similar to those presented in more than 15,000 Xarelto lawsuits pending in the federal court system, each involving that the drug makers failed to adequately research the side effects of the medication or warn about the lack of a safe and effective reversal agent, which left doctors unable to control or stop bleeding problems that have developed among users.

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To reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts, the lawsuits are centralized before U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana, as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation.

As part of the coordinated discovery and MDL proceedings, Judge Fallon selected a small group of representatives cases for a series of bellwether trials, which began last month and are expected to continue throughout the summer.

The first bellwether trial ended in a defense verdict last month, after a jury found that Joseph Bourdreaux, Jr. failed to meet the necessary burden of proof.

Following the Xarelto wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Sharyn Orr, a third case is set for trial to begin in Missippi in June 2017, with a fourth case set to begin in Texas in July 2017.

While the outcomes of these bellwether claims will not be binding on other plaintiffs, they may influence negotiations to resolve the litigation. However, if Xarelto settlements or another resolution is not reached, Judge Fallon may begin remanding large numbers of individual cases back to U.S. District Courts for individual trials.

Xarelto Bleeding Problems

Xarelto (rivaroxoaban) is part of a new generation of novel oral anticoagulants and was introduced in 2011 as an alternative to Coumadin (warfarin), which has been the go-to anti-clotting treatment for decades. Other medications in the same class include Pradaxa and Eliquis.

Since the medications were approved, they have been aggressively promoted by the drug makers as easier to use than warfarin. However, large numbers of adverse event reports have surfaced involving severe and sometimes fatal bleeding problems with Xarelto, Pradaxa and Eliquis.

While all blood thinners may cause bleeding, the side effects of warfarin can be quickly reversed with a widely known antidote. However, there was no Xarelto reversal agent when the drug was introduced, and plaintiffs allege that Bayer and Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn users and the medical community about the lack of an antidote, which led to severe and uncontrollable bleeds.

Similar allegations were raised in thousands of Pradaxa lawsuits filed several years ago, as that medication hit the market before Xarelto. However, the maker of that competing drug ultimately agreed to pay $650 million in Pradaxa settlements just before the first bellwether trials were set to begin, with an average of about $150,000 per claim.

As Xarelto bleeding lawyers continue to review potential cases for individuals prescribed the anticoagulant throughout the United States, the number of complaints has surpassed the number of claims involved in the Pradaxa litigation, as the drug has become more widely used in recent years.


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