US District Judge Matthew Kennelly ordered that eight testosterone lawsuits move forward as bellwether trials. Of those, four will be lawsuits involving claims of the patient suffering myocardial infarction or stroke and four will be cases involving venous thromboembolism. All eight cases, however, involve AbbVie Androgel.
Bellwether cases are undertaken to give both sides a chance to see the arguments the other side will make and predict which way the courts will find in subsequent lawsuits. If, for example, the courts repeatedly find for the plaintiffs, the defendants might decide to offer a settlement.
Lawsuits filed against AbbVie and other testosterone therapy manufacturers were consolidated for pretrial proceedings in a multidistrict litigation. According to court documents, more than 6,000 lawsuits against several manufacturers sit in the MDL, with more than 5,000 of those filed against AbbVie linked to AndroGel.
The first bellwether trial to go to court is expected to be the lawsuits filed by Jeffrey Konrad. It is expected to go to trial in 2017.
According to court documents filed in support of the lawsuit, Konrad suffered a myocardial infarction on July 9, 2010, at the age of 49, despite having no medical history of heart problems. On May 5, 2010, Konrad began his use of AndroGel, which he reportedly used up to the day of his myocardial infarction.
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One of the other lawsuits approved as a bellwether trial is that of Jesse Mitchell. Like Konrad, Mitchell was 49 when he experienced a myocardial infarction. Mitchell, however, had used AndroGel for more than five years. He was hospitalized for five days, including two days spent in a coma, and suffered kidney failure. Unlike Konrad, Mitchell had other risk factors for myocardial infarction, including hypertension and a history of smoking.
The MDL is case number 2545, In Re: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Products Liability Litigation. The Konrad lawsuit is case number 1:15-cv-00966. The Mitchell lawsuit is case number 1:14-cv-09178.