We have reported periodically on rulings in the Aredia/Zometa litigation, including Daubert and summary judgment rulings by the MDL judge and choice of law rulings by Judge Arthur Spatt of the E.D.N.Y. in Deutsch v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., a case remanded for trial from the MDL. Judge Spatt has now decided Daubert motions in Deutsch and another remanded case, and his very long opinion is a bit like yesterday’s list of silly law songs : there is something in there for everyone. Deutsch v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22755 (E.D.N.Y. March 8, 2011).
MDL rulings are law of the case. The MDL judge ruled on Daubert challenges to several plaintiffs’ experts. Novartis challenged those experts based both on arguments made to the MDL judge and on new arguments. Judge Spatt generally refused to consider the arguments previously decided by the MDL judge based on the law of the case doctrine, finding the doctrine particularly applicable when cases are transferred from an MDL. 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22755 at *18-21. “Reversing or otherwise undermining the decisions by the MDL court could lead to the type of inconsistent pretrial rulings that Congress sought to avoid [in the Multi-District Litigation Act], and therefore frustrate the very purpose of consolidation.” Id. at *21.
As a general matter, we agree that issues decided by the MDL judge should not be relitigated on remand. In Deutsch, however, the MDL rulings became the third rail, and anyone raising an argument that came within a few yards of an issue decided by the MDL court got zapped.