The Federal judge overseeing thousands of Actos lawsuits has set an aggressive “hard and fast” schedule requiring bellwether trials to commence in less than a year. In a Scheduling Order dated February 19, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Doherty established a “Pilot Bellwether Program” in the Actos Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), which streamlines trial preparation and schedules two bellwether trials regarding the dangerous drug Actos to begin on January 27, 2014 and April 14, 2014.
Dangerous drugs spark litigation
In products liability litigation involving multiple similar lawsuits, such as the Actos MDL, judges will typically order a small number of cases to be litigated and tried first. Commonly called “bellwether” trials, these early trials are used as an example by the parties to determine how juries will typically respond to similar evidence in multiple cases, with the aim of facilitating a settlement.
The first trial regarding the diabetes drug Actos has already commenced in a California state court. That Actos lawsuit was given an expedited trial date due to concerns regarding the health of the plaintiff, who developed bladder cancer allegedly caused by Actos. The two trials now scheduled to commence in the MDL will be the first trials to be held in Federal court.
Over 3000 Actos lawsuits have been consolidated in the MDL. These cases all generally allege that Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Actos, was aware of an increased risk of bladder cancer, but failed to adequately warn physicians and patients about the potential increased risk of bladder cancer associated with long-term use of the medication. Studies suggest that Actos, a medication for treatment of Type 2 diabetes, is associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
Trial schedule to create “extraordinary burdens” on the parties and the court
Judge Doherty acknowledged that the Pilot Bellwether Program sets a trial schedule that will be burdensome and strict. In the order, Judge Doherty wrote that she was “aware that the schedule established herein will place extraordinary burdens on the Court, Counsel and the Parties.” Judge Doherty nonetheless set a “hard and fast” schedule “to serve the very important goal of moving these proceedings toward completion of this Court’s responsibilities in a reasonable timeframe.” To that end, Judge Doherty set deadlines that “will not be extended, continued or delayed by the Court in any way absent extraordinarily good cause shown.”
Under the Pilot Bellwether Program, the parties will each nominate five cases to be part of the trial preparation pool. Only cases involving plaintiffs diagnosed with bladder cancer after taking Actos may be part of this initial pool. Judge Doherty excluded from this pool co-called “fear of cancer” cases, in which the plaintiff alleges only a fear of developing bladder cancer after taking Actos, without actually being diagnosed with bladder cancer.
A New York product liability lawyer can help
The New York product liability lawyer team at The Sanders Firm is dedicated to defending the rights of all New Yorkers who have been injured due to dangerous drugs like Actos. We will provide a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your case with you and to walk you through the pros and cons of filing Actos lawsuits. Our attorneys can help you pursue the compensation you need and deserve. Call toll-free: 1.800 FAIR PLAY (800.324.7752).