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From Products Liability Law Daily, December 15, 2014

Xarelto products liability cases transferred to Louisiana

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

Six products liability actions pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against the manufacturers of Xarelto, a prescription blood thinner, were transferred to the multi-district litigation pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana, despite strong arguments by the manufacturers against centralization. In addition, 21 other actions pending in 10 district courts also were transferred to the federal court in Louisiana (In re: Xarelto (Rivarozaban) Products Liability Litigation, December 12, 2014, Vance, S., Chair).

Background. The underlying products liability actions were filed by patients who alleged that they experienced severe bleeding as a result of their ingestion of the prescription blood thinner manufactured by Bayer Corporation and marketed in the United States by Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Opposition to centralization. In opposing centralization, the drug companies argued that (1) individualized facts concerning each plaintiff’s case, such as medical history, dosage, and alleged injuries, will predominate over common factual issues; (2) informal coordination will be sufficient to address overlapping discovery on the common issues alleged; (3) the circumstances of attorney advertising suggest the cases lack merit; and (4) creation of an MDL will encourage the filing of a flood of copycat complaints without due diligence by counsel. While admitting that there were some common factual issues, the drug companies contended that informal coordination would be preferable to centralization given the limited number of actions involved.

Centralization order. Although the court agreed that the underlying actions presented a number of individualized factual issues, the existence of these issues did not negate the common issues which included: the adequacy of Xarelto’s warning label with respect to the risk of severe bleeding and other injuries, the results of certain clinical studies, and the alleged need for blood monitoring. The court remained unpersuaded by the drug companies’ arguments that an MDL would generate the filing of voluminous claims without due diligence by plaintiffs’ counsel or that the product’s regulatory history suggested that the allegations of dangerousness lacked merit.

After weighing the relevant factors used to determine the transferee district, the Illinois court settled on the Eastern District of Louisiana as the transferee forum because it provides a geographically central location for this nationwide litigation. Judge Eldon E. Fallon, who presides over three potential tag-along actions, was named as the presiding judge. Judge Fallon is an experienced transferee judge, well-versed in multidistrict litigation.

The case is MDL No. 2592.

Attorneys: Attorneys: Lawrence L. Jones, II (Jones Ward PLC) for Marilynne A. Cox. Albert G. Bixler (Eckert Seamans Cherin Mellott) and Heather Reardon Olson (DLA Piper LLP) for Janssen Research & Development LLC.

Companies: Janssen Research & Development LLC; Janssen Ortho LLC; Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson’s.

MainStory: TopStory ClassActLitigationNews DrugsNews IllinoisNews LouisianaNews

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