Hundreds of lawsuits filed on behalf of cancer patients who allegedly experienced permanent air loss due to treatment with Taxotere continue to move forward in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, where a new order pertaining to the proceeding’s second bellwether trial was recently entered into the docket.
The Court’s November 14th Case Management Order governs the identification and selection of plaintiffs for that trial, noting that the parties have already submitted a list of 8 potential bellwether cases:
All of these cases will undergo phased discovery, with the first phase to conclude on June 12, 2018.
The parties will then nominate four of these Taxotere lawsuits (ranked in order of preference) to undergo the second phase of discovery.
“On June 22, 2018, the Court, after hearing from the parties, will select one or more Plaintiff(s) (Primary Plaintiff(s)) for the second trial date and will rank the remaining Plaintiffs as alternatives,” the Order states. “The parties reserve the right to object to and file motions addressing whether multiple plaintiffs may be tried in one trial. If the Primary Plaintiff’s case is dismissed for any reason, the next highest ranked Plaintiff will be set for the second trial date instead.”
Second phase discovery and additional fact witness depositions for use at the second trial, as well as any other fact discovery of the Defendants, is to be completed no later than August 1, 2018.
Expert depositions and discovery for use at the second trial must be completed no later than November 16, 2018.
A final pretrial conference will be convened on Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. The trial is scheduled to be convened on Monday, January 28, at 8:30 a.m.
More than 2,300 Taxotere lawsuits are currently pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana, where all federally-filed claims involving the chemotherapy drug’s alleged propensity to cause permanent hair loss have been centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
Taxotere is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis, and is currently approved to treat breast cancer, head and neck cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Although the medication was initially approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996, it was only in December 2015 that its label was updated to not permanent alopecia as a possible side effect.
While hair loss is a typical side effect of chemotherapy, plaintiffs involved in the Taxotere litigation allege that alopecia associated its use is more likely to be permanent compared to hair loss that accompanies treatment with other, equally effective medications. They also point out that the European medical community was informed of the potential for permanent hair loss in 2005, while the Canadian Taxotere label underwent a similar modification in 2012.