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Multidistrict Litigation Court set up for Lipitor lawsuits

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in February centralized Lipitor lawsuits filed in federal court. One judge will oversee consolidated pre-trial proceedings for those Lipitor lawsuits placed before one multidistrict litigation court, the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.

"Centralization," the panel wrote in its transfer order, "will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary."

Plaintiffs in these Lipitor lawsuits assert that they developed type-2 diabetes as a result of using Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering medication made by defendant Pfizer.

The panel denied a motion to centralize Lipitor lawsuits in July 2013. For a variety of reasons, despite Pfizer's opposition, the panel decided to create an MDL this time.

First of all, there were not that many Lipitor lawsuits pending in mid-2013. It's a whole new ballgame now. As the panel wrote, "The present motion encompasses 56 constituent actions and over 170 tag-alongs. These actions are pending in more than 40 districts before more than 100 different judges."

Further, the panel in 2013 was unaware of Lipitor lawsuits filed in state court, but, this time, as the panel explained, "We now know that Lipitor diabetes lawsuits are pending in at least three state courts. Creation of an MDL likely will make it easier to coordinate, as needed, pretrial proceedings in both the state and federal cases, because there will now be just one judge handling the latter."

In the transfer order, the panel also blew away like a clay pigeon Pfizer's argument that the creation of an MDL "will prompt an avalanche of filings of 'non-viable' Lipitor cases in an effort to coerce a settlement."

To the contrary, the panel held that the way MDLs operate minimizes such an occurrence. Panelists wrote, "An MDL, after all, gathers all related federal actions before just one judge who, of necessity, acquires an unusually high degree of familiarity with not only the involved parties, counsel, and claims but also the litigation's underlying subject matter. As a result, that judge is uniquely well-positioned to recognize and dispose of spurious claims quickly."

Whether a Lipitor lawsuit is pending in state court or at the MDL in South Carolina, patients who developed diabetes after using Lipitor can benefit from legal representation well-versed in handling product liability litigation against a well-resourced multinational pharmaceutical corporation. The experienced attorneys at Reich & Binstock are in this esteemed category and are willing and proud to fight on behalf of Lipitor victims.

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