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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal testosterone lawsuits is scheduled to meet with the parties today, at which time the appointment of a settlement master will be finalized, with the expectation that the monthly discussions will be held to negotiate a resolution, as the first bellwether trials begin later this year.
There are currently more than 6,700 product liability cases pending throughout the federal court system over the failure to warn about the side effects of testosterone replacement drugs, such as Androgel, Testim, Axiron and other popular treatments.
Plaintiffs allege that they suffered heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and other serious injuries that were not disclosed as a known risk by the drug makers.
Given the similar questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, the testosterone litigation is centralized for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois to prevent duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
As part of the coordinated MDL effort, Judge Kennelly has established bellwether programs, where small groups of representative cases against each of the drug makers are being prepared for early trial dates. The first trials, involving a series of six cases over side effects of Androgel, are expected to begin in a few months.
While the outcomes of these bellwether trials are not binding on other cases, they are designed to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their claims, and facilitate potential testosterone settlement agreements that may help avoid the need for thousands of individual cases to be set for trial.
According to a docket entry (PDF) posted by the Court on March 14, Judge Kennelly will meet with the parties and a settlement master today, before a previously scheduled case management conference.
Judge Kennelly directed the parties to submit a proposed order designating Randi Ellis, Esq. as the settlement maser, and calling for the parties to attend monthly meetings to discuss settlement of testosterone cases in good faith.
The first Androgel lawsuit is scheduled to go before a jury on June 5, with five additional bellwether cases set to begin about every four weeks after that.
Following the bellwether programs, if the parties fail to reach agreements to settle testosterone cases, Judge Kennelly may begin remanding large groups of cases back to the U.S. District Courts where they were originally filed for individual trial dates.