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TDF Updates

  • April 10, 2020 Update

    In a recent order, the court set forth a procedure for the selection of what is often referred to as “bellwether cases.” In a case where there are thousands of individual cases pending in one court, judges will often use the bellwether trials as a way to achieve a global settlement. The “bellwether trials” or “bellwether cases” are the cases that are selected to go to trial first. The idea is that if you obtain jury verdicts in 5-10 “typical” cases, reasonable parties should be able agree on a global settlement program that can be used to resolve or settle the remaining cases. Presently, the first bellwether case is scheduled to be tried in January 2021. Here, the process used by the court to select the bellwether cases is unique. First, 150 plaintiffs will be randomly selected to be included in the bellwether pool. After this is completed, each side (the defendant and plaintiffs) will select an additional 25 cases to be part of the pool. Second, after the 200 cases are chosen, each plaintiff will fill out what is a called a Plaintiff Fact Sheet, or “PFS”. A PFS is essentially a long questionnaire where each plaintiff is required to provide detailed information about their treatment, background, and injuries. After the fact sheets are submitted, the parties and the court will then narrow down the pool to a much smaller group of cases. At that point, the parties will then begin the process of deposing witnesses and doctors and getting the cases ready for trial.

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  • March 11, 2020 Update.

    Today the court entered an order that is designed to organize the plaintiffs attorneys in the TDF litigation that is now pending in the San Francisco Superior Court. Specifically, the court has entered a series of orders establishing Liaison Counsel, Lead Counsel, a Plaintiff’s Steering Committee, and a Plaintiff’s Executive Committee. The reason these orders are required is that there are several hundred individual plaintiffs’ law firms who have TDF cases pending in the court. The appointment of liaison and lead counsel is designed to create efficiencies and provide “one voice” when plaintiffs are dealing with the court and the defendant. Liaison counsel is appointed to ensure the orderly communication between the court and the numerous plaintiff’s attorneys around the country who have TDF cases. Kershaw Cook & Talley has been appointed to serve as Liaison counsel in this litigation. Lead counsel in the case oversees the overall litigation strategy. Lead counsel presides over the Plaintiffs’ Steering and Executive Committees and determines what actions will take place on the plaintiff’s side of the case. The Steering and Executive committees serve two primary purposes. First, they all contribute money to help fund the overall litigation. Cases against large pharmaceutical companies require the expenditure of millions of dollars in expenses for discovery and experts. By pooling resources, these two committees are able to match the unlimited resources at the disposa

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  • January 31, 2020 Update.

    Today the court in the TDF cases pending in the San Francisco County Superior Court entered an order regarding the manner in which plaintiffs can file “complaints.” A complaint is essentially the lawsuit that is filed to initiate an action against the defendant. The complaint provides all of the factual allegations against the defendant and puts them on notice of the various claims or “causes of action” that are being asserted by a plaintiff against it. In a case such as this, where there are hundreds lawyers and plaintiffs, the case can become unwieldly if each firm files their own individual complaint with their own factual allegations. To avoid numerous individual issues and to streamline the litigation process, the court approved a process whereby plaintiffs can simply adopt a “master complaint.” The master complaint contains a uniform and thorough recitation of the facts of the case and contains a list of all the causes of action that could be asserted by individual plaintiffs. This order will make it easier for new plaintiff to file claims against the defendant.

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  • December 13, 2019 Update

    Today the court in the TDF cases pending in the San Francisco County Superior Court entered an order regarding electronic discovery. In cases against large drug companies, virtually all of the companies’ “documents” will be maintained in an electronic format. For example, there are likely millions of e-mails, memorandum, and study results that may only be maintained electronically on the defendant’s servers. This raises several issues that required the court to enter an order. First, the court’s order requires the defendant to take steps to ensure that relevant electronic evidence is not destroyed or altered. Many times companies have in place “automatic deletion” policies that provide for the deletion of e-mails or other electronic files after a certain period of time. The court’s order requires the defendants to ensure that this does not happen. Second, the order address the manner in which electronic document should be produced to the plaintiff. Specifically, the order requires that the documents produced in a “native file” format whenever possible. Native file format means the electronic files are produced in the exact same manner they are maintained on the companies’ servers instead of being produced as a hard copy. For example, instead of printing out an e-mail and sending it to the plaintiffs, the defendant is required to simply copy the e-mail electronically and send it in the same format in which it was created.

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  • October 11, 2019 Update

    Today the court in the TDF cases entered an order appointing a “discovery master” to preside over the litigation. “Discovery” is the process whereby the parties to a lawsuit obtain evidence from the other side to eventually present to a jury. In this case, the plaintiffs will likely be seeking millions of internal memorandum, e-mails, and clinical study results from the defendant. Additionally, plaintiffs will be seeking to depose many of the defendant’s executives and scientists. The discovery process in large cases like this often results in numerous disputes between the parties as to what documents should be produced and whether the parties have done enough to search for relevant documents. In order to allow these disputes to be resolved efficiently, the court has appointed an independent “discovery master” to preside over discovery disputes and make recommendations to the judge. These recommendations can then be turned into binding orders by the court. This order is another important step in moving these cases forward.

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