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On December 3, 2020, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) heard arguments concerning the potential consolidation of all federally filed Elmiron lawsuits. Elmiron is a medication FDA-approved to treat interstitial cystitis (IC), or painful bladder, that has been linked in recent studies to an increased risk of vision damage.

A group of plaintiffs who have filed Elmiron lawsuits urged the JPML to consolidate the cases in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey before the Honorable Brian R. Martinotti, who according to the plaintiffs, has already been treating the litigation there as a mass tort.

Both Parties Agree that Consolidation In New Jersey Would Be Efficient

The plaintiffs filed their motion to consolidate with the JPML back in September 2020. They noted that there were already 24 Elmiron cases pending in the New Jersey court at that time, all of which had been assigned to Judge Martinotti. Also, there were 39 more cases filed in 10 different federal courts across the country, for a total of 63 actions filed in 11 federal courts.

“It is estimated that there are likely a few thousand potential Elmiron cases to be filed,” the motion reads.

Given the volume of the actions and the commonality of facts, the plaintiffs argued that centralization was warranted, and would be the most efficient and appropriate course of action as it would promote the just and efficient conduct of the actions, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings and duplicative discovery, and conserve the resources of the judiciary.

On October 15, 2020, Elmiron manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals filed a response to the motion stating they did not oppose the plaintiffs’ request to consolidate Elmiron lawsuits under the direction of Judge Martinotti. At the time of this filing, the cases had increased to 93 across the country.

The company also agreed that New Jersey was an appropriate and convenient forum for the given that Janssen maintains its headquarters there: “The majority of the Janssen teams responsible for medical affairs, regulatory approvals and compliance, labeling, marketing, and sales of Elmiron are based in New Jersey.”

Defendants Reiterate Preference for New Jersey MDL

On December 3, 2020, both parties presented their arguments to the JPML. The plaintiffs again reiterated that Judge Martinotti had been treating the Elmiron lawsuits pending in New Jersey as a mass tort from the beginning, implementing procedures and processes to advance the suits as a whole. The plaintiffs also noted that the judge had taken steps to coordinate Elmiron lawsuits with other jurisdictions.

One group of plaintiffs, however, disagreed and suggested the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, instead, arguing that the litigation had already progressed there.

The defendants disagreed with the idea of centralizing in Pennsylvania, reiterating their preference for New Jersey because that is where they are headquartered, and where all the relevant documents and witnesses are.

It remains to be seen what the JPML will decide. Meanwhile, plaintiffs who took Elmiron for years and then were diagnosed with vision loss related to their retinal injuries may be eligible to file lawsuits to recover damages.

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