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Eric T. Chaffin
Eric T. Chaffin
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JPML Consolidates Federal Xarelto Lawsuits In Louisiana

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All federal Xarelto lawsuits have been centralized in the Eastern District of Louisiana. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued the transfer order on December 12, 2014, and assigned District Judge Eldon E. Fallon to preside over the proceedings.

A total of 21 Xarelto cases pending were transferred to the MDL, though it was expected that several more would soon join the litigation.

Plaintiffs Agreed Consolidation was Appropriate

It was on October 9, 2014, that plaintiffs filed a motion with the JPML for consolidation. They argued that bringing all cases together for pre-trial proceedings made sense for the following reasons:

  • Common questions of law and fact exist, including whether Xarelto manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals (subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) provided adequate warnings concerning the risks of excessive bleeding; whether they conducted adequate testing, and whether they breached warranties related to the sale of Xarelto.
  • Consolidation promotes efficient prosecution and resolution of the claims.
  • Consolidation makes it more efficient for all parties involved.
  • Consolidation reduces the risk of duplicative discovery and deposition, as well as inconsistent rulings.
  • All Xarelto lawsuits involve similar claims, mainly that Xarelto caused plaintiffs to suffer serious injuries and sometimes death.
  • The litigation is likely to be national in scope, with potentially thousands of cases filed.

They suggested the Southern District of Illinois for a location, however, arguing that it was the most appropriate for several reasons, including that the Pradaxa MDL is held there. Pradaxa is another anticoagulant similar to Xarelto that has also been linked with injuries and deaths because of excessive bleeding side effects.

Defendants Disagreed with Consolidation

Janssen and Johnson & Johnson argued against consolidation, stating that each Xarelto case contained individual facts that were not necessarily similar, that Xarelto prescribing information has already warned of the risks of bleeding, and that Xarelto cases were not the same as Pradaxa cases.

Should the panel decide to consolidate, the defendants suggested the District of New Jersey rather than the Southern District of Illinois. The plaintiffs’ preference of Illinois should be ignored, they asserted, because the court was already overtaxed with other cases, and because the judge (Judge Herndon) was already managing the Pradaxa MDL.

New Jersey would be the better choice, the defendants claimed, because it was near Janssen principal places of business, and because the judges there were well qualified to serve as MDL judges.

JPML Decides on Louisiana

The JPML, in their transfer order, agreed with the plaintiffs that consolidation was warranted, but disagreed with both parties on the location for the Xarelto MDL.

The panel did note that many Xarelto lawsuits presented individualized factual issues, but that “the existence of such issues does not negate the common ones.” They added that the growth in the litigation showed that informal coordination was not practical (as the defendants had argued), and that centralization would promote the “just and efficient conduct of this litigation.”

As for the location, the panel selected the Eastern District of Louisiana for the following reasons:

  • One action and 12 potential tag-along actions are pending in this district
  • The location was supported by a number of plaintiffs and by the opposing defendants as an appropriate alternative
  • The district is centrally located
  • Judge Fallon is an experienced transferee judge

Xarelto is one of several so-called “new generation” anticoagulants or “blood-thinning” drugs marketed as a more effective and convenient alternative to warfarin. It has been linked to injuries involving uncontrollable bleeding, and unlike warfarin, has no readily available antidote, making bleeding events much more dangerous and potentially deadly.