When we reviewed the litigation over AstraZeneca’s antipsychotic Seroquel in June, there was debate over whether the litigation was a bust for the thousands of plaintiffs who’d filed suits claiming the drug caused their diabetes.
Delaware court judge, who had just tossed a Seroquel case on Daubert grounds, warned in his opinion that plaintiffs had yet to establish that link successfully. But plaintiffs lawyer Paul Pennock of Weitz & Luxenberg cautioned us to reserve judgment. “Far from going away, Seroquel is about to reveal AstraZeneca as one of the worst managers of a mass tort litigation in history,” he said.
Recently Judge Slights granted summary judgment to AstraZeneca in two more Seroquel cases, both on Daubert grounds. So far, six Delaware Seroquel cases have been tossed.
Two test cases in the federal multidistrict litigation in Orlando have also failed to withstand AstraZeneca summary judgment motions based on Daubert challenges to plaintiffs’ experts. All eight Seroquel cases that have come up for trial, in other words, have ended with pretrial wins for AstraZeneca.
Michael Kelly, who was colead counsel in the two most recent Delaware cases with Donald Scott,said that it’s time for the plaintiffs to concede defeat. “This litigation has been around since 2003 and they still can’t get a case to trial,” he said. Noting that the three most recent Delaware cases were all hand-picked by the plaintiffs, he added: “These are presumably their best cases. It’s telling that they can’t even get these to trial.”
Plaintiffs may yet turn the litigation around, with a spate of suits headed for trial in the coming months. Next on the docket, according to an AstraZeneca spokesman, is a New Jersey state court case with a February trial date. Thirty-eight others, according to the most recent status report in the MDL, have been transferred to federal district courts for pretrial proceedings.
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