To help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout thousands of lawsuits filed by individuals who developed kidney problems from Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix and other proton pump inhibitor medications, a group of three “bellwether” test cases have been selected, with the first trial scheduled to begin in October 2022.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in more than 13,000 Proton Pump Inhibitor lawsuits brought throughout the federal court system, the litigation has been centralized U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in New Jersey since late 2019, as part of an MDL or multi-district litigation.
While drugs have been promoted for years as safe and effective heartburn treatments, which many believe carry few serious side effects, the lawsuits allege that the manufacturers failed to adequately warn for years about the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening kidney complications, including acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease, end-stage renal failure and other side effects.
Following coordinated discovery into common issues about the link between PPI heartburn drugs and kidney damage that apply to all claims, the court established a bellwether program, where a small group of representative claims have gone through case-specific discovery and been prepared for early trial dates.
In a Case Management Order issued on January 20, Judge Cecchi identified the first three bellwether trials, which will start with two separate Nexium kidney disease lawsuits, followed by a final trial involving a plaintiff who suffered multiple different kidney injuries after use of both Nexium and Prilosec.
A lawsuit brought James Rieder will be the first to go before a jury, beginning on October 12, 2022, or 30 days after the court rules on final motions for summary judgment and requests to exclude certain expert witness testimony. According to allegations raised in his complaint (PDF) filed in January 2019, Reider was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease after using Nexium from March 2010 to February 2015.
The second bellwether trial will involve a lawsuit (PDF) brought by David Foster, who indicates that he began taking Nexium in 2008, and was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease the following year, resulting in a number of acute kidney failure episodes that he directly relates to side effects of the heartburn drug.
A complaint (PDF) filed by Kevin Bales has been selected for the third trial, involving claims that he used both Nexium and Prilosec at various times since 2000, and developed an acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease and end stage renal failure.
While the outcomes of these early test trials will not have any binding impact on other plaintiffs, they are likely to have a substantial impact on settlements the drug makers may reach to avoid the need for thousands of individual claims to be remanded to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates in the coming years.
Tags: AstraZeneca   Chronic Kidney Disease   Heartburn   Heartburn Drugs   Kidney Failure   Nexium   Pfizer   Prevacid   Prilosec   Procter & Gamble   Proton Pump Inhibitor