The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has been asked to consolidate all lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system which allege Seresto flea and tick collars poisoned pets and humans, requesting that the growing number of claims be centralized before one judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
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, disclosing for the first time that more than 75,000 adverse health reactions have been reported to federal regulators among humans and pets after coming into contact with Seresto flea and tick collars, including nearly 1,700 pet deaths.
The manufacturers, Elanco Animal Health, Inc. and Bayer Healthcare, face at least 12Seresto flea and tick collar lawsuits filed in federal courts nationwide, and that number is expected to grow significantly in the coming months and years, given the high number of pet deaths and illnesses allegedly caused by the flea tick collars.
On April 27, one plaintiff, Laura Revolinsky, filed a Motion to Transer (PDF) with the JPML, requesting the creation of a Seresto collar multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New Jersey federal court, where all of the cases would be consolidated for discovery and pretrial proceedings.
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. Centralizing the Seresto flea and tick collar claims would help avoid duplicative discovery, prevent contradictory rulings from different judges, and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses, and the courts, according to the motion.
Revolinsky filed a class action lawsuit on April 22, after her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel died while wearing a Seresto collar, alleging the manufacturer knew about the poisoning risks, but failed to warn pet owners.
Earlier this month, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a Freedom of Information Act complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), seeking to obtain information on thousands of Seresto collar problems reported by consumers nationwide. The Center says originally the EPA agreed to hand over the documents by the end of September 2020, but the documents never came.
The U.S. JPML is expected to consider oral arguments on the motion, including any response filed by the manufacturers, during a hearing this summer. The panel will then determine whether centralized management is appropriate at this early stage of the litigation, and the most appropriate forum for the pretrial proceedings.