Proton Pump Inhibitor Lawsuits: Status Conference to Address Bellwether Trial Schedule

Published on November 20, 2019 by Laurie Villanueva

The federal court overseeing thousands of proton pump inhibitor lawsuits filed over various kidney injuries is beginning to plan for the litigation’s first bellwether trials.

According to a Status Report issued by the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, on November 15th, a bellwether trial schedule is among several matters to be addressed when the litigation convenes its regular monthly conference later today.

Over 13,000 Proton Pump Inhibitor Lawsuits Pending Nationwide

More than 13,600 lawsuits have been filed against proton pump inhibitor manufacturers in federal courts around the country, with the majority centralized before a single federal judge in New Jersey.

Hundreds of similar cases are pending in various state courts, including:

  • 115 in Delaware County Court, New Castle Count
  • 69 in Cook County Superior Court, Illinois
  • 47 in New Jersey’s Atlantic County Superior Court
  • 23 in Court of Common Pleas, Hamilton County, Ohio
  • 1 in New York Supreme Court, New York County

All of the pending proton pump inhibitor lawsuits similarly allege that the various defendants failed to warn the public that drugs like Prilosec, PrevAcid, and Nexium might increase the risk for chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, and other serious kidney injuries, especially if taken for a long period of time.

Plaintiffs, Defendants at Odds Over Federal Trial Schedule

According to a letter written by the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the federal litigation, the parties have met and conferred on a bellwether trial schedule, but have been unable to reach agreement. While plaintiffs’ attorneys believe bellwether discovery can be completed by Spring 2021, and have proposed that the first trial begin in March 2021, defendants are pushing for an April 2022 trial date.

The federal proton pump inhibitor litigation underway in New Jersey was established five years ago, and in the interim, many plaintiffs have died. The Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee clearly view the defendants’ proposal as part of a pattern to delay the litigation’s progress.

“By contrast, the AstraZeneca Defendants have moved very aggressively in the Delaware state court litigation, where they have been pressing for an expedited schedule and trial date,” the committee’s letter states. “Thus, it is clear that Defendants are seeking to have the first trials occur in state court rather than before Your Honor. This gamesmanship should not be tolerated. Not only is it disrespectful to this Court, but it undermines the very efficiencies intended by the multi-district litigation process.”

The Plaintiff Steering Committee’s proposal apparently extends the original bellwether trial schedule by six months. In asking that the Court implement their proposal, the letter notes that the Court can modify the schedule even further if the parties ultimately determine that additional time is needed to prepare for trial.

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