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Judge Doherty Moves Dates for MDL Actos Bladder Cancer Bellwether Trials

Actos Lawsuit NewsOn December 29, 2011, the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized all federal Actos lawsuits into one court in the Western District of Louisiana. Judge Rebecca F. Doherty was appointed to oversee the proceedings.

Since then, Judge Doherty has made it clear that she intends to move the cases along as quickly as possible. Yet as the litigation has expanded—manufacturer Takeda now faces over 3,000 cases—that goal has proved increasingly difficult to attain.

In a recent scheduling order, however, the judge moved up the dates for the first two bellwether trials from what they were before, and stated that these trials will not be delayed unless there is “extraordinarily good cause shown.”

Latest Actos lawsuit news for bellwether trials

In earlier Actos lawsuit news, Judge Doherty signed an order on July 13, 2012, setting the date for the first bellwether trial to begin November 3, 2014, and the second to begin January 12, 2015. The court, after considering the scope of the proceedings, noted that significant time was necessary to complete discovery and pretrial preparations before any case could go to trial.

The first of many Actos lawsuits has already gone to court in California, however. Plaintiff Jack Cooper filed the case in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles, claiming that Takeda failed to provide adequate warnings as to the risks associated with long-term use of the diabetes medication. He took Actos for two years before being diagnosed with bladder cancer in November 2011. His Actos bladder cancer trial began on February 19, 2013.

Pilot Bellwether Program for first Actos bladder cancer trial date

In this latest order, Judge Doherty established a “Pilot Bellwether Program (PBP)” to streamline trial preparation for a minimum of two trials. “This court is aware that the schedule established herein will place extraordinary burdens on this court, counsel, and parties,” she wrote. “Nonetheless, this abbreviated schedule is imposed so as to serve the very important goal of moving these proceedings toward completion of this court’s responsibilities in a reasonable time frame.”

According to the new schedule, the first Actos bladder cancer trial in the MDL will begin not on November 3, 2014, but on January 27, 2014. The second one was moved from January 12, 2015 to April 14, 2014.

“The deadlines established herein should be considered hard and fast,” the judge wrote. “They will not be extended, continued, or delayed by the court in any way absent extraordinarily good cause shown.”

Deadlines for first Actos lawsuits

In setting deadlines for the accomplishment of the earlier trial dates, Judge Doherty created the following schedule:

  • April 1, 2013: Each side shall nominate Pilot Bellwether Discovery Pool participants. More specifically, each side will nominate five plaintiffs to participate in discovery, for a total of 10 plaintiffs. Plaintiffs must have taken Actos, been diagnosed with diabetes, and been diagnosed with bladder cancer.
  • July 15, 2013: Plaintiffs shall identify their nominee for the first trial, and defendants shall identify theirs for the second trial.
  • October 1, 2013: Discovery deadline.
  • January 13, 2014: Pre-trial conference.

These initial Actos lawsuits are likely to gauge how juries may react to evidence and testimony presented in court. The outcomes of each Actos bladder cancer trial may also help encourage future settlement agreements.