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The U.S. District Judge assigned to preside over the recently establishment of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) for all Xarelto lawsuits, has scheduled an initial status conference for January 29, to meet with lawyers involved in the cases and discuss the organizational structure of the coordinated pretrial proceedings.
Following a hearing last month before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), all product liability lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system over bleeding problems allegedly caused by side effects of Xarelto have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties
At the time the Xarelto MDL was established, there were at least 21 complaints pending in 10 different U.S. District Courts. However, as Xarelto injury lawyers continue to review and file cases for individuals who experienced bleeding complications while using the new-generation anticoagulant, it is ultimately expected that several thousand cases will be brought nationwide.
According to a pretrial order (PDF) issued December 17, Judge Fallon has scheduled an initial pretrial conference in the MDL for January 29, requiring attorneys for plaintiffs and the drug makers to submit any proposed case management orders or agenda items by January 27.
The parties have also been directed to submit respective position statements by January 20, outlining their preliminary understanding of the facts involved in the litigation and the critical legal and factual issues that will be presented.
Judge Fallon has ordered legal counsel associated with the litigation to familiarize themselves with the Manual for Complex Litigation, which details how MDLs should work, and “be prepared at the conference to suggest procedures that will facilitate the expeditious, economical, and just resolution of this litigation.”
Xarelto Bleeding Lawsuits
All of the cases involved in the Xarelto MDL raise similar allegations, claiming that Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community about the potential bleeding risks with Xarelto, as well as the lack of an effective reversal agent to allow doctors to control hemorrhaging that may develop while using the drug.
Xarelto (rivaroxoaban) is a new-generation anticoagulant introduced in 2011 as an alternative to Coumadin (warfarin), which has been the go-to treatment for prevention of blood clots for years. However, unlike warfarin, there is no reversal agent for Xarelto to stop the blood thinning effects of the medication, leading to a number of reports involving severe injury or death associated with uncontrollable bleeding.
Despite the reports of bleeding problems, Xarelto has been promoted as superior to warfarin, with the drug makers indicating that it is easier to use, since it does not require regular blood monitoring. However, several recent studies have raised questions about those claims, with researchers suggesting that Xarelto blood monitoring may actually help doctors identify patients at the greatest risk of bleeding.
Following the initial pretrial conference, Judge Fallon has indicated that he will work towards appointing a group of Xarelto lawyers to serve in various leadership roles in the litigation, taking certain actions that will benefit all plaintiffs as part of the coordinated discovery and litigation. Attorneys who wish to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee or in other leadership roles have been directed to submit applications by February 5.
As the Xarelto litigation continues to grow over the next few months, it is likely that the Court will be focused on the organizational structure of the proceedings and laying the groundwork for preliminary discovery into common issues that are likely to be raised in all cases.
During the coordinated pretrial proceedings, it is ultimately expected that a small group of cases will be selected as “bellwether” claims, which will then be prepared for early trial dates in the MDL. While the outcomes of these such early test cases are not binding, they are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation and may facilitate negotiations to reach Xarelto settlements.