This case was the last remaining Accutane suit in a coordinated litigation against the Accutane manufacturer. Arizona resident Archie Woulard’s case was sent to the coordinated litigation in May 2013. Woulard claimed that he developed Ulcerative Colitis and irritable bowel disease as a result of taking Accutane. His claim, like thousands of others, included negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty and fraud.
The termination of the coordinated proceeding is good news for Roche. The drug company spokesman, Edward Lang Jr., told Law360 that “Roche is pleased that Judge Freeman has dismissed the claims of the last remaining Accutane plaintiff in California... The termination of the coordinated proceeding “is another important step toward concluding this litigation successfully.”
Almost one year ago, Judge Freeman “sent other plaintiffs in the coordinated litigation packing,” according to Law360. The judge in July 2014 issued a stay in two multiplaintiff actions so that the out-of-state plaintiffs would have time to file again in their home jurisdictions. Defendants Roche and California-based distributor McKesson Corp. agreed to not oppose a potential move by the plaintiffs to file their suits in their home states, which include Arizona, Washington, New York, Utah and Illinois.
Those two lawsuits were brought in California Superior Court in 2012 and in 2013 against Roche and McKesson. Judge Freeman said that including the California-based distributor was still not enough to keep their lawsuits in California because most of the relevant evidence and witnesses were not in California: most of Accutane’s production and testing took place outside the state.
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Judge Freeman wrote in his opinion that a suitable alternative forum be available and mentioned the possibility of moving individual Accutane lawsuits to the federal multidistrict litigation in Florida, where a number of suits have been dismissed.
In the New Jersey consolidated action, about 2,000 claims were dismissed in February 2014 when the judge tossed out expert testimony linking Accutane to Crohn’s disease. Many cases are pending in the New Jersey litigation. And Accutane complaints are still being investigated.