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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal valsartan lawsuits has ordered each individual pursuing a claim to submit a Plaintiff Fact Sheet (PFS), providing case specific information about their cancer diagnosis and exposure to the recalled hypertension drug, which was contaminated with a known human carcinogen for years.
There are currently more than 130 product liability lawsuits and class action claims involving valsartan currently pending in the federal court system, each raising similar allegations that certain generic drug makers distributed pills that contained N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) and other chemicals that are known to increase the risk of cancers.
Many of the complaints allege that individuals developed various cancers following long-term exposure to the chemical, including liver cancer, stomach cancer, small intestine cancer, esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and other cancers.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in complaints, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation previously decided to consolidate and centralize all pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in the District of New Jersey earlier this year, and it is widely expected that several thousands valsartan cancer claims will ultimately be presented in the coming months and years.
To help facilitate the efficient exchange of information about each claim, Judge Kugler issued a case management order (PDF) this week, approving a series of questions that are part of a “Plaintiff’s Fact Sheet” (PFS).
Each individual who has already filed Short Form Complaint in the valsartan litigation has been ordered to complete a PFS within 90 days, including individuals diagnosed with cancer, as well as plaintiffs seeking medical monitoring through valsartan class action claims and plaintiffs claiming other economic loss.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, it is expected that Judge Kugler will eventually establish a “bellwether” process, where the parties will use the fact sheet information about each valsartan cancer claim to select a representative group cases, which will be prepared for early trial dates in the MDL.
While the outcome of these early “bellwether” trials will not be binding on other plaintiffs, they are typically scheduled in complex pharmaceutical litigation to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation, and facilitate potential valsartan cancer settlements with the manufacturers and distributors of the contaminated pills.