Thousands of patients have filed personal injury claims against Janssen Pharmaceutical, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson, accusing the companies of misleading health care professionals and the public about the safety and risks of industry-leading blood thinner Xarelto. In nearly 18,000 Xarelto lawsuits, patients report taking the popular anticoagulant and suffering severe bleeding events.
Has Janssen Offered Any Xarelto Settlements Yet?
Neither Janssen, Bayer nor Johnson & Johnson have yet to announce any settlements in this massive – and still growing – litigation. To our knowledge, the companies has not offered compensation to any patients who claim to have been injured by the drug. Likewise, no reports have emerged of settlements in the many wrongful death cases that have been filed.
However, recent progress in court may suggest that Xarelto settlements could be coming soon.
What Could Push The Litigation Toward Settlement?
The first Xarelto lawsuit was filed in 2014. Soon, hundreds of patients had stepped forward, claiming the blood-thinner had left them at an increased risk of suffering severe bleeding events, including:
- gastrointestinal bleeding
- pulmonary embolism
- brain hemorrhage
- epidural hematoma
- rectal bleeding
These complaints were joined by claims filed on behalf of families, who say the drug led to bleeding incidents that proved fatal in loved ones. While the personal stories described in these lawsuits are unique, the complaints share a number of troubling allegations in common.
In the three years since 2014, the litigation has grown by leaps and bounds. In fact, so many Xarelto lawsuits have now been filed that a panel of federal judges decided to transfer thousands of the claims to a single court: the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Their decision created a Multi-District Litigation, In re: Xarelto (Rivaroxaban) Products Liability Litigation, relying on a traditional federal mechanism to streamline litigations that involve numerous similar lawsuits. The Xarelto MDL now includes over 18,000 individual personal injury claims.
Bellwether Trials: First Set For April 2017
In New Orleans, US District Judge Eldon E. Fallon has guided the lawsuits through a series of coordinated pretrial proceedings. Bringing the lawsuits under one roof has allowed plaintiffs’ attorneys to collaborate, developing a strong case to the benefit of every patient and family who has filed a claim. As a result of their efforts, the first Xarelto lawsuits are headed to trial.
Judge Fallon has selected a number of cases that will be heard by a jury – the first is scheduled for trial on April 27, 2017. Following that trial, which will be held in the Eastern District of Louisiana, three other “bellwether” trials have been slated to go forward:
- May 30, 2017 – Eastern District of Louisiana
- June 2017 (date undetermined) – Southern District of Mississippi
- July 2017 (date undetermined) – Northern District of Texas
The results of these initial trials will be crucial to any settlement negotiations that are held.
Update: June 16, 2017 – the first two bellwether trials obtain defense verdicts. In the first trial, a 75 year old man suffered a GI bleed that required hospitalization and blood transfusions. The plaintiffs were unsuccessful in their attempt to prove that J&J failed to warn about irreversible bleeding conditions. In the second trial, Orr, the same defense theory was successful under the learned intermediary defense doctrine.
Trial Results Could Smooth Path For Resolution
In previous litigations, bellwether trials have paved the road for settlements down the line. Our Xarelto attorneys are hopeful that this litigation will proceed in a similar manner. As Michael Monheit, Esq., the Managing Partner at Monheit Law, said in 2015:
We believe Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson will likely have to pay out substantial compensation to those injured or families who have lost a loved one due to the side effects of Xarelto.
Remember that the decision to settle Xarelto lawsuits will be a financial one for Janssen Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of German healthcare giant Bayer, and Johnson & Johnson.
What Impact Will The First Bellwether Defense Verdicts Have?
The first two defense verdicts were based on a defense of the learned intermediary doctrine, which basically means that manufacturers of drugs satisfy their duty to warn of adverse risks, if they communicate those risks to a “learned intermediary”, that is a doctor who prescribes the drug to the patient. This is, in our opinion a last ditch defense effort which has worked in the first two cases. We firmly believe that in the upcoming 38 trials, juries will see past that defense. For further analysis, we recommend reading this.
Litigating personal injury claims is expensive, even for a company that rakes in over $50 billion in revenue every year. If Janssen loses a number of bellwether trials, the prospect of litigating other cases in court probably won’t look as attractive. A better option, the company could reason, may be to offer settlements and avoid a protracted litigation, along with the attorney and court fees that continued court trials would entail. Likewise, a series of bellwether wins will give plaintiffs a fair bit of leverage in settlement talks.
Will Pradaxa MDL Settlement Serve As Precedent?
This legal terrain is not entirely uncharted. In fact, a strikingly-similar litigation sprouted up around the first “new generation” anticoagulant released to compete with warfarin: Pradaxa.
Manufactured and marketed by Boeringher Ingelheim, a German corporation, Pradaxa hit the US market in 2010 and quickly became a blockbuster. Like Xarelto, the drug was released without an antidote. Patients soon began to step forward, the New York Times reports, filing personal injury lawsuits over severe bleeding events.
The litigation was consolidated, in the US District Court for the Southern District of Louisiana, in 2012. After two years of coordinated litigation, Boeringher Ingelheim decided to settle the cases en masse, offering around 4,000 patients a total of $650 million in compensation.
Why Are Patients Filing Xarelto Lawsuits?
While most blood thinners entail a risk of excessive bleeding, traditional medications come equipped with effective and swift reversal agents. The anticoagulant effects of warfarin, for example, can be quickly reversed with a shot of donor blood plasma or Vitamin K. That can be a literal life-saver for patients who suffer traumatic injuries or experience internal bleeding. Xarelto, on the other hand, was released to the market without a known antidote.
Many patients claim that this lack of an antidote renders Xarelto defective. Their argument is that Xarelto must be considered unreasonably dangerous, because its effects cannot be reversed. Moreover, plaintiffs have accused Janssen Pharmaceutical, along with its parent company Bayer, of failing to adequately warn the medical community about Xarelto’s potential risks, including the absence of an available reversal agent.
What Determines A Settlement Amount?
From meeting with our own clients and speaking to other victims, we’ve come to understand the deep, life-altering effects that Xarelto-linked injuries can have, both on individual patients and their families. Settlements are meant to compensate patients and families for these damages, the losses incurred as a result of a drug’s use. Obviously, these damages are not limited to physical injuries. Nor are they restricted to the pain and suffering experienced due to physical injuries.
Instead, an appropriate settlement offer will include compensation that covers a wide range of losses, from past and future medical expenses to the effect that a loved one’s injuries had on family life. In reality, most settlement negotiations focus on the same factors that a jury would take into account at trial. Some essential considerations could be:
- what injury was suffered as a result of taking Xarelto?
- how long did the injury last?
- what were the short term and long term effects of the injury on the plaintiff?
- what medical expenses were incurred in the past?
- what medical expense will be incurred in the future?
- what future care might be needed?
- in the event of disability, what economic loss will be suffered in the future because of an inability to work?
Wrongful death settlements will likely focus on a different set of concerns:
- what financial support will no longer be available to dependents?
- what forms of companionship, love and social interaction have surviving loved ones been deprived of?
- what burial or funeral expenses were incurred?
In any event, the discussions will center around making a patient or family “whole” again, returning them, insofar as this is possible, to their situation before the injuries occurred.
Thinking About Filing A Xarelto Lawsuit?
If you or a loved one suffered an injury or death because of an adverse event you believe was caused by Xarelto, then feel free to contact our compassionate, experienced lawyers today. We will evaluate your claim and advise you of your legal rights. We are helping families and individuals all across the United States who believe they have been wronged by the manufacturers of Xarelto. Call us today. The call is free and there is no fee for our services until we recover financial compensation for you.