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Initial Status Conference Set in MDL for Tepezza Hearing Damage Lawsuits
The U.S. District Judge recently appointed to preside over all Tepezza hearing damage lawsuits has scheduled an initial status conference for later this month, at which time the Court will discuss a number protocols and procedures designed to move the rapidly growing litigation forward.
Although Tepezza (teprotumumab-trbw) was just introduced by Horizon Therapeutics in January 2020, as a new-generation biologic treatment for thyroid eye disease and bulging eyes, hundreds of former users are already coming forward to pursue lawsuits after experiencing various hearing side effects from Tepezza, including persistent ringing in the ears known as tinnitus, and complete hearing loss.
The drug was initially expected to only be a niche treatment, with only a limited market. However, following aggressive marketing that suggested the drug was safe and carried few side effects, sales in the U.S. doubled to $1.66 billion in the second year it was on the market, and critics have expressed concern that Horizon failed to adequately disclose the potential risks associated with their drug and the importance of monitoring for hearing damage during Tepezza treatment.
Although there are currently only a handful of claims filed throughout the federal court system, it is widely expected that hundreds, if not thousands of Tepezza hearing damage lawsuits will brought in the coming months and years.
To help manage the claims, which each raise similar questions of fact and laws, a Tepezza MDL (multidistrict litigation) was established earlier this month, centralizing complaints filed throughout the federal court system before U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin in the Northern District of Illinois for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
Tepezza Hearing Damage Lawsuits Initial Status Conference
On June 16, Judge Durkin issued a case management order (PDF), providing an early overview of how the cases will be managed in the MDL, and scheduling the first status conference to be held on June 28.
Topics to be addressed at the initial conference include whether consolidated complaints, involving more than one plaintiff who suffered Tepezza hearing damage, will be allowed. It will also cover potential orders the court may issue to preserve evidence, and appointing Tepezza lawyers to leadership positions, who will take certain actions during discovery and pretrial proceedings that benefit all plaintiffs.
Although Judge Durkin noted that the Court does not intend to make final decisions regarding the appointment of attorneys to lead the litigation at the hearing, he said such a decision will come promptly after the conference.
On June 12, a group of Tepezza lawyers filed a motion which proposed a slate of attorneys to serve in leadership positions in the Tepezza MDL. The unopposed motion calls for three attorneys to serve as co-lead counsel- one liaison counsel, and an eight-person executive committee.
As part of the coordinated management of the Tepezza lawsuits, it is expected that Judge Durkin will also eventually establish a “bellwether” program, where a small group of representative cases will be prepared for early trial dates, to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony about hearing damage from Tepezza that will be repeated throughout various cases in the litigation.
If no Tepezza settlement agreement or other resolution is reached during the MDL pretrial proceedings, each individual claim may later be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for trial.
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