In a notice published April 18, the New Jersey state judiciary said its state Supreme Court has received an application to designate the lawsuits – against Sanofi U.S. Services Inc., Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC, Sandoz Inc. and Actavis LLC – as multicounty litigation. The application also requested that Superior Court Judge James F. Hyland in Middlesex County be assigned the cases, because most of the Taxotere suits have been filed in his jurisdiction.
Plaintiffs File Request to Marry Cases
Lawyers for plaintiffs in approximately 353 such cases pending across New Jersey filed the application with judiciary officials in March 2018. In arguing for court consolidation, they cited the large number of involved parties and common issues underlying the claims.
The application read, in part: “Centralized management will conserve judicial resources and provide all parties with the benefits of coordinated discovery.”
It further stated: “Given the large number of parties, witnesses, and counsel, the cases would benefit from centralized management. Centralized management will also minimize duplicative practice and inconsistent discovery rulings.”
The application stated that centralization would also help facilitate coordination with multidistrict litigation over the use of Taxotere in Louisiana federal court.
Roughly 333 of the New Jersey state lawsuits are pending in Middlesex County. The remaining suits are filed in Camden, Union, Essex and Hudson counties, according to the application. The plaintiffs live not only in New Jersey, but also in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Connecticut.
The application says, “The parties submit that this geographical diversity makes centralized management necessary for the efficient handling of this litigation.”
Plaintiffs allege wrongful conduct by Taxotere Maker
The plaintiffs allege in the application that they suffered injuries because of the defendants’ wrongful conduct in designing, manufacturing, distributing, labeling, advertising, marketing, promoting, and selling Taxotere, a chemotherapy drug.
Taxotere – Permanent Hair Loss
Each of the lawsuits alleges that the defendants knew or should have known that Taxotere “causes and contributes to permanent disfigurement and hair loss,” yet failed to adequately warn of such risks. The application declares, “Further, all of the actions proposed for designation allege substantially similar violations of law and are based upon the same or substantially similar underlying claims surrounding the safety profile of Taxotere (docetaxel).”
The plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that the matters should be assigned to Judge Hyland because the vast majority of the cases are pending in his Middlesex County jurisdiction. But the application also included the caveat that following pretrial proceedings in the MCL, New Jersey-based plaintiffs should be given the option of having their respective cases tried in their chosen counties.
The application argues: “A contrary decision would severely prejudice a New Jersey plaintiff who does not reside in or near the county to which centralized litigation is assigned, potentially requiring the plaintiff to live away from home, at great inconvenience and expense, due to the happenstance that there are multiple other related cases pending.”
“Allowing the MCL judge to transfer the cases for trial to the plaintiff’s chosen county will protect the plaintiff’s rights, while promoting the primary goal of centralization – efficiency and consistent management and orders through the discovery process,” says the application.
Women Want To Centralize NJ Taxotere Hair Loss Suit
The choice of court venue is always a contentious issue between plaintiffs and defense in drug cases like Taxotere. Plaintiffs’ attorneys always want to give their clients the best chance of a fair trial, while defense lawyers always want a venue which they feel will be the most advantageous for their corporate clients. Judges in these cases are expected to weigh all the legal issues involved, as well as issues of convenience for plaintiffs, court costs, and court time (which is also money) and make the fairest possible determination regarding the most optimal venue for trial. Venue is so important that a case can sometimes be close to won or lost simply by being assigned a certain venue.