Valsartan Recall Lawsuit Cleared To Move Forward To Trial

The first valsartan recall lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial late last month, but the case was delayed and a new date has not yet been announced.

More than five years after a series of valsartan recalls were first issued, the U.S. District Judge presiding over all lawsuits filed by individuals who developed cancer and other injuries after using tainted versions of the generic blood pressure drug has cleared the first case to go before a jury.

More than 1,200 valsartan recall lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers and distributors of the contaminated pills, including personal injury and class action claims brought on behalf of a wide variety of individuals, each claiming that changes to the generic drug manufacturing process caused pills to be distributed for years with high levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) and other chemical byproducts, which are known to increase the risk of stomach cancer, liver cancer, esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and other injuries.

Given 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, given the long latency period for several types of cancer caused by NDMA in valsartan, new lawsuits continue to be filed.

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Valsartan Lawsuits

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


Valsartan Recall Lawsuits Survive Motion for Summary Judgment

The first valsartan trial was supposed to begin on March 18. However, it was delayed by a text order entered on the docket March 8, without the Court providing any explanation for the delay or new trial date being set.

Days later, on March 26, Judge Kugler issued an order (PDF) rejecting the manufacturers’ motion for summary judgment in the trial case, allowing claims for breach of express warranty, consumer protection laws and fraud to move forward. He also refused to eliminate the ability of plaintiffs to pursue punitive damages against the manufacturers and distributors, which may allow the jury to award substantially higher damages to punish the manufacturers for recklessly disregarding the health and safety of consumers.

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.

If the parties fail to make progress toward a resolution for the litigation or establish a valsartan recall settlements program, it is expected that Judge Kugler will move forward with a series of “bellwether” trials, and then consider remanding large numbers of claims back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate trial dates in the future.

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