Leadership Development Committee for Suboxone Dental Injury Lawyers Established in Federal MDL

Lawyers will take certain actions that benefit all plaintiffs pursuing Suboxone dental decay lawsuits in the MDL, which is soon expected to include thousands of claims brought by individuals nationwide.

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Suboxone dental decay lawsuits is providing an opportunity for certain injury lawyers to gain valuable experience in mass tort litigation, by establishing a leadership development committee in the recently established MDL.

There are currently about 350 product liability lawsuits against Suboxone film manufacturers pending the federal court system, each raising similar allegations that users were not adequately warned for years that Suboxone film causes tooth decay injuries. However, it is widely expected that thousands of cases will be filed this week on a bundled Suboxone lawsuits, in advance of the two-year anniversary of a label change, which may trigger a filing deadline for individuals from certain states.

Suboxone Film Dental Injury Risk

Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) has been marketed by Indivior for decades as a safe and effective treatment for individuals dealing with addictions to opioid-based pain killers.

Although the drug was first approved in a dissolvable tablet form in 2002, Indivior subsequently introduced a sublingual film version of the drug about ten years later, which is placed under the tongue or inside the cheek. However, the lawsuits allege that the drug maker withheld critical information from users and the medical community about the risk that devastating and disfiguring dental injuries users were experiencing from Suboxone film.

It was not until June 17, 2022 that the FDA added Suboxone tooth decay warnings to the medication, following hundreds of complaints involving tooth loss. Plaintiffs maintain that they may have avoided permanent damage, and costly dental treatments, if they had been adequately warned and instructed to take certain steps to avoid erosion of enamel and tooth loss while using Suboxone film.

Suboxone Lawsuit

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Lawsuits are being pursued by users of Suboxone who experienced tooth loss, broken teeth or required dental extractions. Settlement benefits may be available.

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Given common questions of fact and law presented in lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established a Suboxone lawsuit MDL in February 2024, transferring claims to U.S. District Judge Philip Calabrese in the Northern District of Ohio, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

One of the first steps Judge Calabrese took was appointing Suboxone dental injury lawyers to serve in leadership positions, identifying a group of 20 experienced attorneys to take certain actions during the MDL proceedings that benefit all plaintiffs pursuing a claim.

Last week, in an effort to give some younger or less experienced attorneys a chance to be mentored in the MDL, the Court issued a case management order (PDF) establishing a Leadership Development Committee (LDC).

“The LDC is intended to provide mentorship to attorneys committed to long-term involvement in MDL practice with the goal of developing future MDL leaders,” Judge Calabrese said in the order. “Through this process, the Court intends that less-experienced attorneys will work with and learn from the established leaders the Court has appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Leadership Committee.”

Under the program, members of the LDC will have to complete projects assigned by co-lead counsel or the appointed Chair of the LDC in a timely manner.

Attorneys wishing to take part in the program can contact LDC Chair Lee Floyd via email at lee@bbtrial.com by 5 p.m. Eastern on July 8, 2024. The Plaintiffs’ Leadership Committee is expected to submit a proposed order identifying LDC applicants by August 8.

Suboxone Tolling Agreement Still in the Works

As the litigation continues to move forward, the two-year anniversary of the FDA label warning requirement is approaching on Monday, which the drug maker, Indivior, argues establishes a Suboxone lawsuit deadline for many plaintiffs.

Since lawyers are continuing to investigate and vet large numbers of claims, plaintiffs have made multiple attempts to enter a tolling agreement with the drug maker, which would extend the filing deadline for certain claimants who already retained a lawyer, and impose other limitations on the litigation. However, Indivior had previously refused to agree to such an agreement, and the courts are starting to be flooded with new complaints.

In May, Judge Calabrese issued a court order giving plaintiffs until June 14 to file a bundled Suboxone dental injury lawsuit complaint, which would include a list of claims that will be considered filed as of that date. All that is required to be listed on the complaint is the identify of the claimant, where they reside, where they were prescribed Suboxone and where they used the drug. That bundled complaint is expected, by some, to contain potentially thousands of new plaintiffs and claims.

During a status conference held on June 6, Indivior attorneys indicated that they will be open to discussing a tolling agreement after the bundled complaint is filed. Such an agreement is likely to cover plaintiffs from states with statutes of limitations that allow filing up to three years or more from the time plaintiffs knew or should have known that Suboxone film strips caused their dental injuries.

Judge Calabrese issued an order (PDF) that same day, calling on the parties to file a status report detailing how the tolling agreement discussions are proceeding by July 1, 2024, indicating that the next status conference will be held on July 18, 2024.

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