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For as long as we have been representing drug and device companies in product liability litigation, the plaintiffs have accused our clients of “buying the science.”  Sometimes, this has allegedly been by funding studies or offering support to outside researchers such as free product or access to administrative support.  Sometimes, this has allegedly been by

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In 1919, J. Edgar Hoover described Communism as a “conspiracy so vast” that it was impossible for the populace to comprehend it.  The Palmer Raids and the first Red Scare soon followed.

That phrase echoed in our minds when we first read In re Valsartan, Losartan, & Irbesartan Products Liability Litigation, 2023 WL 1818922 (D.N.J. Feb. 8, 2023).  The Valsartan opinion was similarly mind-boggling in its scope.  It certified not one, not two − but four class actions:  one for economic loss, one for third-party payors (“TPPs”), and two for medical monitoring (“remedy” and “independent claim”).  Id. at *3.  Compare that to the state of class action precedent in product liability litigation not too long ago when we made this statement in 2007:

As far as we know, there has not been a single contested class action in product liability, personal injury litigation that’s been affirmed anywhere in the federal system in the decade since the Supreme Court put the kibosh on such things with its Ortiz and AmChem decisions.  That’s not limited to just pharmaceuticals, that’s every kind of product that’s made.

Four in a single MDL order?  These class certifications glommed together no less than 111 consumer and TPP subclasses.  Valsartan, 2023 WL 1818922, at *24.  These class certifications combined 428 different pharmaceutical products, produced and marketed by 28 separate defendants, with claims governed by the laws of 52 separate jurisdictions.  There’s no way on earth that common issues could predominate over individual ones, or that this morass could possibly be tried to a jury.Continue Reading An Abuse of Discretion So Vast….  Our Long-Delayed Critique of the Valsartan MDL Class Action Certifications

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In our recent ediscovery for defendants update, we highlighted two of the twenty-eight cases we included as the most important:  In re Tasigna (Nilotinib) Products Liability Litigation, 2023 WL 6064308 (Mag. M.D. Fla. Sept. 18, 2023), and Davis v. Disability Rights New Jersey, 291 A.3d 812 (N.J. Super. App. Div. March 16, 2023).  Today we’re explaining why.Continue Reading The Two Most Significant New Ediscovery for Defendants Decisions

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This post is from the non-Reed Smith side of the blog.

We don’t usually report on securities-law cases, but today we do. That is because the well-reasoned decision in question, In re Allergan PLC Securities Litigation, 2022 WL 17584155 (S.D.N.Y. 2022), has major implications for the parallel Textured Breast Implant MDL now pending in

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Bexis has lots of opinions on what’s wrong with mass-tort (especially drug/device) MDLs.  Heck, Bexis has even proposed amendments to the MDL statutes to correct the many severe problems that exist.  Now, Congress has before it possible statutory changes (not holding our breath) and Civil Rules Committee is looking into the same problems.  Maybe something

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A multidistrict litigation (MDL) can be a sound way of managing a mass tort.  Efficiencies are available (e.g., deposing company witnesses only once) and the U. of Chicago part of us dreams of economies of scale.  Then again, an MDL can be vexing, as plaintiff lawyers park their weak cases in the MDL and find ways to push their relatively few strong cases up front.  Think of the MDL as a vast kennel, with all of the associated dangers and bad smells.  Then again, an MDL can be an out-and-out disaster, as the old If-you-build-it-they-will-come model oft-described by blogger emeritus Mark Herrmann takes hold.  The very existence of the MDL itself makes the mass tort massive.  The MDL becomes a magnet for the meritless.  Plaintiff lawyers resist any discovery of individual cases – there are too many! – and insist on dedicating the MDL to endless discovery of company conduct, as that is common to all cases and, viewed through the MDL lens, is always proportional, no matter how intrusive or expensive.  (At least that is the plaintiff argument.  But now some courts have finally grown weary of MDLs becoming festivals of discovery about discovery, and decided that proportionality applies even when the MDL case inventory has reached four or five digits.  See here, for example.)

We have gone through this evolution of thought in the course of a single MDL, watching good intentions morph into an extortion racket.  We have also seen courts gradually catch on to what has gone wrong with the MDL system.  Is this an instance of phylogeny recapitulating ontogeny? Legislation has been revived in Congress that aims to cabin the insanity of MDLs and class actions. And, mirabile dictu, some MDL judges have started to rein in asymmetrical discovery and have even demanded that plaintiff lawyers furnish evidence of such niceties as usage of the product and medical causation.  We’re not saying let’s make MDLs great again, but can we at least make them less miserable?  Or maybe just make them less.  Perhaps we don’t need an MDL every time there’s an alarming study or an uptick in adverse events.Continue Reading JPML Refuses MDL for Proton Pump Inhibitor Kidney Injury Cases

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This post comes from the non-Reed Smith side of the blog.

We suggested in our most recent post on the Pinnacle Hip Implant MDL that, the sooner the Fifth Circuit weighs in on the evidentiary and procedural concerns being raised by the defense, the better. The defense is trying for sooner.

On Thursday, the defense filed in the Fifth Circuit a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus to the MDL court. This isn’t a petition asking the Fifth Circuit to review the evidentiary and procedural rulings that the defense has been raising since the second bellwether trial was scheduled. It couldn’t do that. But the petition does ask the Fifth Circuit to order the MDL court to do the things that are necessary to allow the Fifth Circuit to conduct that review. And it asks that, in the meantime, the Fifth Circuit stop the bellwether process:

Petitioners seek a writ from this Court directing the district court to: (1) vacate its Order on Bellwether Trials, dated June 10, 2016, which scheduled a trial for September 6, 2016 (Exhibit A); (2) rule promptly on petitioners’ pending post-trial motions in the last bellwether trial; and (3) enter judgment in those cases so that an appeal may follow, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 58(b).

Petition at 1.

It seems that a significant amount of paperwork has been piling up on the MDL court’s desk. The MDL court hasn’t entered final judgment on the first bellwether trial, even though that verdict will soon be two years old. The MDL court has also not ruled on the post-trial motions from, or entered judgment on, the second bellwether trial, the one that raised so many procedural and evidentiary concerns and resulted in a half-billion dollar verdict.Continue Reading Hello Fifth Circuit: The Pinnacle Hip Implant MDL Finally Introduces Itself to the Appellate Court