Multicounty litigation (MCL) is the designation New Jersey’s courts use for consolidated tort actions by large numbers of injured plaintiffs against the parties they believe harmed them. Similar to federal court multidistrict litigation (MDL), MCL benefits plaintiffs by consolidating pretrial procedures before one court. Unlike class action lawsuits, plaintiffs maintain their individual cases, so the amount of compensation they receive depends on the extent of their injuries, not a lump sum payout. A handful of trials serve as bellwethers to help the parties gauge their cases and aid settlement negotiations. The Fosamax MCL is located in New Jersey Superior Court before Judge Carol E. Higbee and as of March, 3, 2013, it contains 2,553 Fosamax lawsuits alleging the drug caused them to suffer either jaw bone death (osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ)) or spontaneous femur fractures.
According to Merck, the first MCL bellwether trial will begin in mid-March 2013.
First Femur Fracture Trial to Begin Soon
On February 28, 2013, Merck published its Form 10-K filing it submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In it, the company informed shareholders of the lawsuits pending against it, including those filed by plaintiffs who took Fosamax.
The MCL court required the parties to select 30 out of the 1,740 femur fracture cases by September 30, 2012 for review as potential bellwether trial candidates. On September 27, 2012, Judge Higbee chose two cases, Unanski v. Merck and Su v. Merck, to be tried jointly on March 4, 2013. In February, Judge Higbee decided to sever Unanski and have Su move forward. Its trial date is now March 12, 2013, but there will be a case management conference the day before. Unanski will be rescheduled for a later trial date, but Su will still be the first Fosamax femur fracture trial to go forward.
Merck won the first two MCL ONJ bellwether trials, Rosenberg v. Merck and Sessner v. Merck; both plaintiffs are appealing the verdicts. There are currently no other Fosamax ONJ trials scheduled for trial in MCL.
Other State Court Trials to Go Forward
Merck’s Form 10-K also revealed the status of other Fosamax cases pending in state court.
- Alabama: Barnes v. Merck is slated for trial on August 12, 2013.
- California: Merck commented that Carrie Smith, et al. v. Merck and Pedrojetti v. Merck might go to trial in 2013. 420 femur fracture cases have been consolidated before Judge Steven Perk in Orange County, but no scheduling order has been entered.
- Florida: Anderson v. Merck, an ONJ case, was supposed to go to trial on January 14, 2013, but the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the case.
- Elsewhere: Merck claims there are seven other cases pending in state courts.
RLG Represents Fosamax Users
In its Form 10-K, Merck states, “The company intends to defend against these lawsuits,” which means it will not give up without a fight. If you took Fosamax and believe it injured you, talking to a lawyer from the Rottenstein Law Group can help you determine the amount of compensation you deserve, which can include full medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. Simply click on this link or call 1-877-476-1516 and a lawyer from RLG will call you as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Everything you say to an RLG lawyer is confidential and the consultation is free of charge.