A federal hearing scheduled for next month will have important implications for plaintiffs who are currently pursuing Zofran lawsuits and power morcellator claims in U.S. District Courts around the country. According to an Order issued on August 14th, the establishment of a multidistrict litigation for those product liability cases will be among the issues addressed by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) when it convenes its next Hearing Session on October 1st in New York City.
Multidistrict litigations are usually established when a large number of cases have or will be filed that involve the same products and put forth similar allegations of fact. Those who favor the centralization of federally-filed Zofran claims and morcellator lawsuits contend that consolidation of the cases will preserve the resources of the court, parties and witnesses, avoid duplicative discovery, and prevent inconsistent court rulings.
Court documents indicate that GlaxoSmithKline has been named in at least 34 federal lawsuits over alleged Zofran birth defects. Among other things, plaintiffs accuse the drug maker of concealing data that suggests use of the anti-nausea medication during early pregnancy might increases the risk that a baby will be born with serious congenital abnormalities. Plaintiffs also claim that Glaxo has for years marketed Zofran as a safe and effective treatment for pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting, even though the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has never approved the drug for this use.
In July, Glaxo asked the JPML to create a multidistrict litigation for the docket in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. While the majority of plaintiffs appear to favor centralizing federal Zofran lawsuits, they have proposed various alternative venues for the proceedings.
Power morcellators, which are used to shred tissue during minimally-invasive hysterectomies and myomectomies, are the subject of more than 20 product liability lawsuits over their potential to spread and upstage undetected uterine cancer cells. The lawsuits name a number of morcellator manufacturers as defendants, including Ethicon, Inc., Karl Storz, Gyrus ACMI and Richard Wolf Medical Instruments.
In June, a group of morcellator lawsuit plaintiffs asked the JPML to transfer all federally-filed cases to the U.S. District Court, District of Kansas. A number of defendants involved in the litigation oppose the creation of a multidistrict litigation.