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Parties involved in the federal testosterone drug litigation will be preparing an additional 82 cases for trial, in three waves over the next two years.
There are currently more than 6,000 Androgel lawsuits, Testim lawsuits, Axiron lawsuits and other claims pending in the federal court system, each involving claims brought on behalf of individuals who suffered a heart attack, stroke, blood clot or other injuries after using the controversial testosterone replacement drugs.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised by each plaintiff, the lawsuits have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois for coordinated discovery and management, as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).
To help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation, Judge Kennelly has held a number of early “bellwether” trials, and additional cases against different drug manufacturers are expected to go to trial over the coming year.
In July 2017, the first case to reach a jury resulted in a $150 million punitive damage award against the makers of Androgel, indicating that AbbVie should be punished for their reckless disregard for the safety of users of their testosterone drug.
A second Androgel trial ended in October 2016, resulting in another massive verdict against AbbVie, with $140 million in compensatory and punitive damages awarded to one plaintiff.
The first bellwether trial against Auxilium, over a heart attack allegedly caused by it’s Testim gel, ended in a defense verdict last month.
With three cases already tried, and two resulting in large verdicts for plaintiffs, Judge Kennelly issued two case management orders last week, detailing how several waves of cases will be prepared for additional trial dates to provide relevant information to help the parties resolve the litigation.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on December 10, Judge Kennelly outlined the process for selecting a first wave of 12 cases, which will be trial ready by August 1, 2018. The group will include eight Androgel cases agaist AbbVie, two Testim cases against Auxilium and two Axiron cases against Eli Lilly.
In a second case management order (PDF) issued on December 11, Judge Kennelly indicated that the first wave of cases will be selected by December 21, with a second wave of 24 cases selected on February 1, 2018 and a third wave of 46 cases selected by April 2, 2018. The additional waves of cases are expected to be trial ready by January 1, 2019 and July 1, 2019, respectively.
Although the outcomes of these bellwether trials are not binding on other plaintiffs, they are being closely watched by parties involved, as they may influence eventual negotiations to reach testosterone drug settlements, which would avoid the need for thousands of individual cases to be set for trial in courts nationwide over the coming years.