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As the organizational structure for all Xarelto injury lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system continues to be established, the U.S. District judge presiding over the cases has appointed a group of plaintiffs’ attorneys to serve in various leadership roles, charged with taking certain pretrial actions that will benefit all individuals who have filed a lawsuit over uncontrollable bleeding injuries.
In December 2014, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for all Xarelto cases filed against Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary over the new-generation blood thinner, centralizing the cases 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.
All of the cases involve similar claims that severe, and often fatal, bleeding injuries were caused by Xarelto side effects, alleging that the drug makers failed to adequately warn about the risk and the lack of an effective reversal agent that doctors could use to stop bleeds.
After receiving dozens of requests from lawyers seeking leadership roles in the Xarelto litigation, Judge Fallon issued an order (PDF) on February 9, appointing 12 different attorneys to serve in leadership roles, including two co-lead counsels.
These Xarelto injury attorneys will take various actions throughout the coordinated pretrial proceedings that benefit all plaintiffs, such as conducting and coordinating discovery, speaking for plaintiffs at hearings and meetings before the court, as well as negotiating and entering potential stipulations or settlement agreements with the Defendants.
Xarelto Bleeding Risks
Xarelto (rivaroxoaban) is a new-generation anticoagulant introduced in 2011 as a superior replacement for Coumadin (warfarin), which has been the “go-to” medication for prevention of blood clots and strokes among patients with atrial fibrillation for decades.
While all blood thinners carry a risk of bleeding injury, Xarelto has been linked to a surprising number of problems as more and more patients are switched to the novel anticoagulant.
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.
In addition to failing to warn about the risk of bleeding and importance of blood monitoring, plaintiffs claim that drug makers withheld information about the lack of a Xarelto reversal agent, which doctors could use to stop hemorrhaging that may develop among users. While warfarin’s blooding thinning effects can be quickly reversed in an emergency, there is no antidote for Xarelto.
There are currently about 100 cases centralized before Judge Fallon as part of the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL). However, as Xarelto attorneys continue to review and file claims for individuals who experienced a bleeding injury, it is ultimately expected that several hundred, if not thousands, of lawsuits will be brought in courts throughout the U.S.
As the Xarelto litigation continues to grow, it is expected that a small group of lawsuits will be selected as “bellwether” claims, which will be prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated in many cases.
Coordinated discovery and depositions into issues that are common to all claims will be largely completed, and then a small group of “test” claims will go through case-specific discovery, including depositions of plaintiffs, treating physicians and other witnesses relevant to that claim.
While the outcomes of any early trial dates are not binding on other cases, they may facilitate potential Xarelto injury settlements, which would avoid the need for hundreds of cases to go before juries throughout the U.S.
The next status conference before Judge Fallon is scheduled for Friday, February 27.