Federal Xarelto Litigation Poised to Select Bellwether Trial Cases

Published on August 5, 2016 by Sandy Liebhard

The federal court overseeing thousands of Xarelto lawsuits is preparing to select individual cases for the proceeding’s upcoming bellwether trials.  Verdicts in these trials could provide clues as to how other juries might rule in similar cases.

Court documents indicate that more than 6,450 Xarelto lawsuits are now pending in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, where all federal claims alleging injuries from internal bleeding and related complications have been centralized for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings. The Court indicated previously that it would begin convening bellwether trials in 2017.

Xarelto Bellwether Trial Protocol

A pool of Xarelto lawsuits had already been designated by the Court as possible bellwether candidates, and those claims have been undergoing case-specific discovery. On August 1st, the Court issued a new Case Management Order setting forth the protocol that will govern selection of the final bellwether cases. According to the Order:

  • The first trial is to involve a complaint filed on behalf of a Louisiana plaintiff who was prescribed Xarelto to prevent or reduce the risk of stroke and embolism due to nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, and who allegedly suffered gastrointestinal bleeding injuries or death from gastrointestinal bleeding due to the medication. Eligible cases include only those that involve plaintiffs who were between the ages of 50 to 90 when the bleeding incident occurred. The parties must each nominate three cases from this category by August 8th at 5:00 p.m. CST.
  • The second bellwether trial will involve a similar plaintiff from Louisiana. However, the individual must have suffered a brain bleed or hemorrhagic stroke which resulted in injury or death.
  • The third bellwether trial will involve a Mississippi plaintiff who took Xarelto to treat or prevent a recurrence of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis. The order stipulates that the case must involve a patient who suffered gastrointestinal bleeding between the age of 40 and 80.
  • A Texas plaintiff with atrial fibrillation will be selected for the fourth Xarelto trial. They must have suffered a gastrointestinal bleed between the ages of 50 and 90.

While the Xarelto lawsuits pending in the federal multidistrict litigation cite a range of bleeding-related injuries, they all put forth common claims regarding the alleged lack of safety warnings provided to doctors and patients. Plaintiffs also assert that sales of Xarelto were driven by misleading marketing claims that positioned the blood thinner as a superior alternative to warfarin. While internal bleeding associated with that decades-old medication can be stopped via the administration of vitamin K, there is currently no approved antidote for reversing Xarelto’s anticoagulant effects.

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