JPML Hears New MDL Consolidation Arguments

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A number of motions to transfer filed by plaintiffs with grievances against GlaxoSmithKline's Zoloft medication, Honda's vibrating 2015 CR-V model and Amtrak's role in a May train derailment were heard by the JPML at their bi-monthly hearing in New York this week.

Sunday, October 4, 2015 - More than a dozen motions to transfer were heard by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on October 1 and are currently awaiting word on the panel‘s decision as to which lawsuits will be consolidated into an MDL and which ones will be denied transfer. There were a number of noteworthy cases before the panel during their October hearing session, including Zofran birth defect lawsuits, claims against American Honda Motor Co, Inc. and allegations pending against Amtrak over a deadly train derailment that took place in May of 2015.

The Zofran lawsuits have picked up steam in 2015 and finally appear before the JPML with a motion to transfer the lawsuits into multidistrict litigation. The plaintiffs claim that pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline intentionally marketed its anti-nausea medication Zofran off-label to doctors with the intention of having them prescribe the drug for morning sickness symptoms. In addition to the fact that GlaxoSmithKline never went through the FDA to gain approval for this application of the drug, there is also a range of studies and editorial investigations that support a link between Zofran and an increased risk of birth defects. More than a dozen suits are included in the motion to transfer before the JPML which claim that one of their children was born with birth defects connected to Zofran that was prescribed to them early in their pregnancy.

Plaintiffs filing suit against American Honda Motor Co., Inc claim that the brand new 2015 Honda CR-V‘s they purchased from the company had a noticeable and distracting vibration that resounded throughout the car both while idling and driving. The motor company allegedly did not offer the car owners full refunds when presented with the problem, claiming that the issue had arisen sometime after the car was purchased. Plaintiffs claim that the vibration issue was present from the moment the vehicle was purchased and are seeking for six actions alleging false advertising infractions to be consolidated into an MDL.

Another group of lawsuits seeking consolidation are linked to the Amtrak train derailment and subsequent crash that took place on May 12, 2015 in Philadelphia. The plaintiffs in this motion to transfer claim that Amtrak bears responsibility for but compensatory and punitive damages sought by those that affected were affected following the train derailment that killed eight and hospitalized more than 200 passengers. Claims against Amtrak, which has already agreed to compensatory liability, include allegations that the company was negligent for allowing a train to be moving at more than twice the speed limit at the site of the crash in Philadelphia and that the track should have been equipped with a Positive Train Control system at the site of the derailment, which could have prevented the incident from occurring in the first place. Most of the plaintiffs in this motion to transfer are requesting the lawsuits to be consolidated in Philadelphia where the accident took place.

The JPML will take the arguments made at the October 1 hearing session and decide upon which cases are consolidated and which are denied transfer over the next week or two before delivering their rulings. In addition to the cases described above, other lawsuits seeking consolidation include a series of claims filed against the makers of power morcellators, plaintiffs with litigation pending against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management following a massive data hack, and a second attempt to certify a class of suits against Eli Lilly & Co. for failing to properly warn consumers about the specifics of withdrawal symptoms related to their antidepressant medication Cymbalta.