Federal Judges To Hear Oral Arguments on Seresto Flea Collar Lawsuit Consolidation

A panel of federal judges will hear oral arguments later this month about whether all Seresto flea and tick collar lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide should be consolidated before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Bayer Healthcare and Elanco Animal Health face at least a dozen Seresto pet collar poisoning lawsuits brought throughout the federal court system, and that number is expected to grow significantly in the coming months and years.

The litigation emerged after it was discovered earlier this year that more than 75,000 adverse health reactions have been reported to federal regulators among humans and pets coming into contact with the collars, including nearly 1,700 pet deaths.

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Seresto flea collars are designed to release small amounts of pesticide onto the skin of cats and dogs for months at a time; to kill fleas, ticks and other pests. However, a report published earlier this year raised serious concerns about problems associated with the products.

In April, a plaintiff filed a motion to consolidate the Seresto pet collar litigation, asking the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to transfer all cases to one judge in New Jersey federal court, to avoid duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to preserve the resources of parties, witnesses and the courts.

Such coordination is common in complex product liability litigation, where a large number of claims have been presented by former users of the same product, alleging similar injuries.

Manufacturers of the Seresto pet collar have opposed consolidation, saying it is premature, with too few cases to make it necessary.

Last month, the JPML issued a Notice of Hearing Session (PDF) indicating they will hear oral arguments on July 29 at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts. However, the arguments will have to be delivered by teleconference or videoconference, due to continuing safety protocols put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following those arguments, the panel will then determine whether centralized management is appropriate at this early stage of the litigation, and which court would make the most appropriate forum for the pretrial proceedings.

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