Valsartan Injury Lawyers To Meet With U.S. District Judge Recently Appointed To Preside Over Litigation

Parties indicate they have reached a proposed settlement agreement for certain Valsartan class action lawsuits and claims involving a similar drug, irbesartan.

Attorneys representing plaintiffs in hundreds of Valsartan recall lawsuits are scheduled to meet for the first time with the U.S. District Judge recently appointed to preside over the litigation, following the recent retirement of the original judge overseeing the coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

Valsartan is a generic blood pressure drug, and many versions of the medication were pulled from the market in late 2018 after it was discovered that changes to the generic drug manufacturing process caused pills to be widely contaminated with high levels N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) and other cancer-causing chemical byproducts.

More than 1,200 product liability lawsuits have been filed against various manufacturers and distributors of the contaminated pills, including both class action claims and personal injury lawsuits brought on behalf of individuals diagnosed with stomach cancer, liver cancer, esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and other injuries. However, given the long latency period for several types of cancer caused by NDMA in valsartan, new lawsuits continue to be filed.

VALSARTAN LAWSUITS

Were you prescribed contaminated Valsartan drugs?

Side effects of recalled valsartan may increase the risk of cancer, due to an impurity discovered in certain generic versions of the hypertension drug.

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As a result of common questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, the litigation has been centralized before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in the District of New Jersey since 2019, where the parties have been preparing groups of cases for early “bellwether” trials, which are designed to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout hundreds of claims.

However, last month the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued an order (PDF) reassigning the litigation to U.S. District Judge Renee M. Bumb, following an announcement by Judge Kugler that he intends to retire at the end of May.

In response, plaintiffs sent a letter (PDF) to Judge Bumb on April 25, seeking an in-person conference to discuss the current state of Valsartan litigation.

“Plaintiffs believe an in-person status conference to address the pending issues in this litigation will greatly benefit all parties and the Court,” the letter states. “Among the issues to be addressed would be the overall status of the litigation, the third-party payor subclass trial previously scheduled to begin on March 18, 2024, and the proposed pretrial order and motions in limine previously submitted to the Court for the third-party payor subclass trial. Plaintiffs suggest the parties confer and submit a proposed agenda at least seven days prior to any conference scheduled by the Court.”

While the initial conference was originally set for June 25, 2024, due to scheduling conflicts the meeting with all parties involved in the active litigation will now occur on July 23.

Some Valsartan and Irbesartan Settlements Proposed

Judge Kugler previously appointed retired U.S. District Judges Gregory M. Sleet and Lawrence F. Stengel as a special master to help the parties negotiation potential valsartan recall lawsuit settlements, which may help avoid the need for hundreds of individual claims to go before juries.

According to the recent letter requesting an initial meeting with Judge Bumb, plaintiffs indicate that the negotiations have led to some potential settlement agreements, with plaintiffs reaching a resolution in principle to resolve lawsuits over irbesartan sold by Auribindo. It is one of three drugs included in the litigation. The letter indicates the agreement would resolve all personal injury, economic damages, and medical monitoring claims concerning the drug.

Plaintiffs also indicate they are preparing a motion calling for the preliminary approval of a settlement agreement for a Valsartan class action lawsuits.

In addition, in a letter (PDF) sent to the court on May 13, attorneys representing plaintiffs and Hetero Drugs, one of the manufacturers of generic valsartan, asked the judge to hold a separate conference between Hetero and plaintiffs to discuss the finalization of a valsartan settlement agreement the parties have reached.

Judge Bumb responded in another text order setting the conference between plaintiffs’ valsartan lawyers and the Hetero defendants for May 31, which will now be the first meeting with the new judge.

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