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We’ve previously posted about the MDL Panel’s increasing propensity to grant motions to coordinate product liability cases.
That’s why we were pleased to see the Panel’s order last month denying plaintiffs’ motion to coordinate the Depo-Provera cases.
Maybe Pfizer was shooting fish in a barrel. The Panel considered the need to coordinate only three federal cases — two already-consolidated personal injury cases pending in the Northern District of California and one medical monitoring class action pending in the District of New Jersey. With just three cases on the table, two already consolidated and raising slightly different issues than the third, it’s possible that the kid down the block could have defeated coordination here.
But the Panel’s order says that the Panel has been notified of seven other Depo-Provera complaints filed in multiple federal district courts. And ten cases starts to get into the range where pretrial coordination becomes uncomfortably likely. Moreover, with more than 150 Depo-Provera complaints filed in New Jersey state courts, this litigation has the feel of a nasty spat.
Moreover, Pfizer felt the heat. We recently posted about a tough tactical choice facing defendants who oppose MDL treatment: Can a defendant simultaneously oppose coordination and argue in favor of its preferred transferee court (just in case the Panel grants coordination)? Pfizer took the same approach in Depo-Provera that GlaxoSmithKline did in the Avandia litigation. Pfizer opposed coordination, but suggested that, if coordination were granted, the District of New Jersey would be the preferred transferee court.
With 150 Depo-Provera cases pending, ten now in federal courts, we suspect this isn’t the last you’ll read about this litigation here. We know, we know: You can hardly wait.