Where Will Your Case Be Filed: Likelihood of Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) In Testosterone Therapy Lawsuits

by Jordan Lebovitz | April 17th, 2014

A key component to successfully resolving claims against medical device or pharmaceutical companies is venue. Venue is the Court where your case is filed. Venue depends on a variety of different factors including, but not limited to, where the injury occurred, where the Plaintiff (the injured person) lives, or where the Defendant (Pharmaceutical company) is located.

Recent lawsuits against the makers of testosterone therapy medication have been filed in Federal District Courts in Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, Colorado, Louisiana, and Nevada, and in some California state courts. The majority of these cases have been filed in the Northern District of Illinois, headquartered in Chicago. That is likely because the largest manufacturer/producer/distributor of Low-T Therapy medication, AbbVie/Abbott – the maker of AndroGel – is headquartered in the Northern District of Illinois just outside of Chicago. Although more than one Federal District Judge had cases on his or her docket, all cases have been consolidated under Judge Matthew Kennelly’s docket. Judge Kennelly has been on the Federal bench since 1999 and was appointed by President Clinton. He has presided over medical device/pharmaceutical cases in the past. 

 Smith v. Flow Opinion  (Smith v. I-Flow Corp., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47197, 1 (N.D. Ill. May 3, 2011)).

In cases of this complexity and magnitude, with the potential for many injured parties suing particular manufacturers, the Federal Courts can invoke a certain “protocol” called Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). An MDL is a special procedure in which civil cases filed in federal courts across the country are transferred to one “lead” court. Under an MDL, one Federal District Court Judge manages the litigation during the pretrial phase (which includes discovery, motion practice, etc). An MDL makes it more efficient for the Court to manage the hundreds, if not thousands, of pending cases involving similar liability issues against the same defendants. The types of cases typically held under 28 U.S.C. §1407  include dangerous drug cases, airplane crashes, and securities fraud/misrepresentation, among others.

The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ultimately decides if, and when, MDL status is appropriate. To date, there has been no determination if there will be an MDL in the testosterone therapy cases; however, given the number of potential claims, it is likely. Motions have been filed to establish the MDL in the Northern District of Illinois (In re Androgel Prod. Liab. Litig., J.P.M.L. MDL No. 2545, motion filed 3/28/14). All evidence indicates that an MDL against AndroGel maker/producer/distributor AbbVie/Abbott will likely proceed in the Northern District of Illinois under Judge Kennelly.

What if you were prescribed and took a testosterone therapy medication other than AndroGel? Can your case still fall under an MDL in Illinois? The short answer is yes. Multi-Defendant MDLs, while not common, are still possible. A Multi-Defendant super MDL was filed in the Transvaginal Mesh (TVM) cases.  There is no evidence so far that indicates a multi-Defendant MDL, but that can always change as the cases progress.

In a case of this complexity and potential magnitude, an MDL may be the best working solution for all parties involved. This will help to streamline each individual’s claim and help the attorneys pool resources.

Maneuvering your case through national litigation or an MDL is not something every lawyer or law firm can successfully accomplish. Nurenberg Paris has litigated, and won, cases in nearly every state in the United States. We have successfully represented Plaintiffs pursuing claims under MDLs in aviation and pharmaceutical/medical device actions. The attorneys at Nurenberg Paris have tremendous experience in the Northern District of Illinois, with Judge Kennelly presiding. Fighting against the makers of dangerous, defective, and misleading products, such as AndroGel, Axiron, and Androderm, is a task best handled by attorneys with experience. Make sure to contact the attorneys with over 85 years of experience if you or someone you care about suffered a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, or blood clot after taking testosterone therapy medication.

Written By: Jordan Lebovitz and David Paris