Federal Xarelto Lawsuits Move Forward, as Third Bellwether Case Heads to Trial in Mississippi

The federal litigation established for Xarelto lawsuits in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, continues to move forward. According to court records, the proceeding’s third bellwether trial is now underway in Mississippi, following the completion of jury selection on August 7th. (In Re: Xarelto Products Liability Litigation, No. 2592)

“Our Firm is representing many Xarelto plaintiffs who allegedly experienced life-threating internal bleeding due to treatment with this medication. The verdict in this case could provide insight into other jury decisions in similar claims, so our attorneys will be monitoring developments closely,” says Sandy A. Liebhard, a partner at Bernstein Liebhard LLP, a nationwide law firm representing victims of defective medical devices and drugs. The Firm continues to evaluate potential Xarelto lawsuits on behalf of individuals who may have been harmed by this blood-thinning medication.

Xarelto Litigation

Xarelto is a new-generation blood thinner jointly marketed by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson. Approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2011, Xarelto is currently indicated for the prevention of strokes in people with atrial fibrillation; the treatment of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism; and the prevention of deep vein thrombosis in patients undergoing hip or knee implant surgery.

Nearly 18,000 Xarelto lawsuits are pending in the District of Louisiana, where all federally-filed product liability lawsuits involving the medication have been centralized for the purpose of coordinated pretrial proceedings. Plaintiffs involved in this litigation claim that the drug’s manufacturers failed to provide doctors and patients with adequate warnings regarding uncontrollable bleeding that may occur with Xarelto, and wrongly promoted the blood thinner as a superior alternative to warfarin. Among other things, their lawsuits note that internal bleeding associated with warfarin can be reversed via the administration of vitamin K. However, there is currently no approved antidote to stop episodes of Xarelto internal bleeding.

The Xarelto lawsuit selected for the litigation’s third bellwether trial was filed on behalf of a Mississippi woman, and is thus being heard in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi. The plaintiff in the case was prescribed Xarelto after she developed a deep vein thrombosis following hip replacement surgery. She alleges that the drug subsequently caused her to suffer a severe gastrointestinal bleed.

The third bellwether trial over blood thinner Xarelto began this week, but it’s missing one thing: Beth Wilkinson.

Wilkinson, of Washington, D.C.’s Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz, scored quick defense verdicts for Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. in the first two Xarelto trials earlier this year.
This time, Janssen, which is part of Johnson & Johnson, is relying on Richard Sarver of Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver, who was involved in the first Xarelto trial and is in New Orleans, where all the trials so far have taken place. Bayer is leaning on Lyn Pruitt of Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard in Little Rock, Arkansas, who was defense counsel in trials over hormone replacement therapy drug Prempro, and Walter T. Johnson at Watkins & Eager in Jackson, Mississippi, where the third trial began on Monday.

The case was brought by Dora Mingo, a resident of Summit, Mississippi, who was admitted to the hospital in 2015 for gastrointestinal bleeding less than a month after taking Xarelto to treat a blood clot in her leg following hip replacement surgery. The trial is expected to end later this month.
Wilkinson confirmed she wasn’t lead counsel this time around but declined to comment. None of the lawyers on the defense team responded to requests for comment.

Bayer spokesman Steven Immergut insisted Wilkinson isn’t out of the picture.
“Ms. Pruitt, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Sarver have been involved in the Xarelto MDL on behalf of the companies for some time, and it has long been the plan that they would lead the trial team for the Mingo case,” Immergut wrote in an email. “In addition, Wilkinson Walsh attorneys, including Ms. Wilkinson, continue to be involved in the defense team for the Mingo trial, as well as in preparation for upcoming Xarelto trials in various jurisdictions.”

He said it’s common to change up attorneys in multidistrict litigation, “particularly when several trials are scheduled in a relatively short amount of time.”

More than 18,000 cases allege that Xarelto, an anticoagulant used to treat blood clots, caused plaintiffs to suffer from uncontrollable internal bleeding.

Plaintiffs attorneys have had a difficult time convincing juries that Bayer and Janssen, both based in New Jersey, failed to warn about Xarelto’s bleeding risks. In court, they have insisted that doctors should have been instructed to conduct a simple blood test that could assess a patient’s risk of bleeding.
In the first trial, the jury took less than two hours before coming back with a defense verdict on May 3. In the second, which ended in a June 12 verdict, jurors deliberated about three hours.

“The next trial — in August — has its own distinctive set of claims and circumstances, and we look forward to having a jury hear that evidence,” said plaintiffs lead counsel Andy Birchfield and Brian Barr at the time.
For this month’s trial, Birchfield, head of the mass torts section of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles in Montgomery, Alabama, has partnered with Bradley Honnold of Goza & Honnold in Kansas City, Kansas, a member of the plaintiffs steering committee.