There are currently 62 pending lawsuits that allege a correlation between Lipitor use and diabetes. On October 10, one of these plaintiffs has once again requested a federal judge consolidate these lawsuits before a single federal judge to save discovery costs and preserve judicial economy in freeing up the court’s dockets.
Two months ago, the first request was denied when the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation determined that there weren’t enough lawsuits filed to consolidate the cases, suggesting to both parties that they should informally coordinate their cases.
Since then, however, the Lipitor litigation has developed into “widespread mass tort litigation.”
In the Motion to Transfer (to a different federal court), it says, “a critical mass has been established in federal court, and the rate of federal filings continues to increase. There is now a definite need for centralized coordination of these actions to avoid overlapping and conflicting pretrial rulings, especially since the option of informal coordination has been impractical.”
The motion also says that taking judicial economy into consideration, the most logical option is to consolidate all actions at issue, to be held in one federal courtroom with one federal judge.
At the time the first motion to consolidate into multidistrict litigation was filed, there were only five cases filed in three federal district courts. Now, there are 62 cases pending in 21 federal districts. The motion also says that it expects thousands more to be filed, alleging that Pfizer Inc. failed to warn patients or their physicians about the increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes after taking Lipitor.
The plaintiffs have suggested that an MDL docket be created in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, which is the same location of their original request. Judge Richard M. Gergel is the presiding judge over the 14 Lipitor products liability cases that have been informally consolidated, and are further along in the litigation process than the current Lipitor lawsuits. Judge Gergel has been recommended as the best suited to serve as the transferee judge.
Recently, informal consolidation has been initiated in the Southern District of Illinois, with the discovery yet to begin in the three cases Judge Michael J. Reagan is overseeing.
The motion states, “the progress of the South Carolina actions not only illustrates Judge Gergel’s interest in the Lipitor products liability litigation, it demonstrates Judge Gergel’s ability to efficiently manage complex litigation.”
We will continue to keep you updated as to the judge’s ruling on consolidation of these Lipitor lawsuits. For more information, contact a Gacovino Lake attorney at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).