Emerging Trends in Tort Cases: New Jersey MCLs, Zofran Bellwethers

Emerging litigation trends to watch this summer include 16 Zofran tort cases for bellwether trials and New Jersey’s multicounty litigation. First, let’s explore how the New Jersey MCL trend, which could add thousands of caseload opportunities for mass tort lawyers nationwide. We’ll also explain how to quickly grow your clientele once you’re ready to take on new tort cases.

Emerging Trends in Tort Cases: Bellwether Trial Selections for Zofran MDL 2657

U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor recently ordered 16 Zofran tort cases selected for bellwether trials before June 15, 2018. Lawyers representing plaintiffs will choose eight tort cases for trial, while defendants GlaxoSmithKline choose another eight claims representing their side. These bellwether trials help set the tone for current Zofran litigation involving more than 400 cases consolidated under MDL 2657.

Plaintiffs allege that prescribing Zofran (generic: Ondansetron) off-label to treat morning sickness allegedly caused birth defects in hundreds of babies. Currently, this anti-nausea medication only has FDA approval to treat cancer patients. Yet mothers given the drug say it causes potentially fatal arrhythmia in babies. And the FDA itself issued a 2011 drug safety communication noting that Zofran use could lead to a potentially fatal heart condition called Torsade de Pointes. One 2012 study found Zofran use during pregnancy doubled the risk for mothers giving birth to babies with cleft palates.

Defendant GSK sought to depose minor children in any tort cases selected for bellwether trials — an “extra-costly and time-consuming” move. As a result, Judge Saylor put special rules in place allowing plaintiffs to submit video and photographic evidence wherever possible. Judge Saylor stated that these particular tort cases “should make a good-faith effort to use alternative means of discovery … rather than a deposition” to protect minor children from unnecessary stress during trial.

Emerging Trends in Tort Cases: New Jersey Multicounty Litigation (MCL) Requests

Our next emerging trend involves Abilify, Taxotere and Ethicon hernia mesh tort cases moved to New Jersey’s state court. Much like federal claims transferred under a multidistrict litigation (MDL), New Jersey’s multicounty litigation (MCL) centralizes claims filed at the state level under a single docket. So, why is consolidating these particular tort cases under New Jersey MCLs such a big deal? The answer’s simple: Last year’s SCOTUS ruling in a Plavix case to deter plaintiffs from “forum-shopping” for favorable jurisdictions.

While some jurisdictions are infamous for “tort tourism” (like St. Louis), consolidating tort cases speeds up litigation and lowers costs. That’s a net positive for plaintiffs and defendants, and it prevents discovery and ruling conflicts across multiple jurisdictions.

Here’s how the New Jersey MCLs side-step any potential jurisdiction issues for these tort cases:

  • Ethicon, which manufactures hernia mesh, has headquarters located in Somerville, NJ
  • Sanofi, which manufactures Taxotere, has headquarters located in Bridgewater Township, NJ
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb, which manufactures Abilify, holds multiple R&D facilities and campus locations in seven different New Jersey cities

How to Grow your Mass Tort Client Base

If you’re an attorney looking for new practice areas to serve, tort cases can help you quickly grow your clientele. And getting pre-qualified clients for tort cases is easy once you partner with LeadingResponse for your client acquisition needs. Billboards, TV commercials and radio spots are expensive with hit-or-miss lead quality. But LeadingResponse is staffed with experienced digital marketing professionals who generate 100% of our mass tort leads internally using strict lead filtering to maintain the superior standards that our clients require.

We understand that time is money — let us help increase your case load with quality mass tort leads so you can focus on winning cases. Fill out our contact form to request your free consultation and lead analysis so we can evaluate your monthly lead volume needs.

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