Just 18 months after a multidistrict litigation (MDL) was formed, Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH is now facing more than 2,000 lawsuits in the U.S. over severe bleeding and other injuries allegedly caused by its blood thinner Pradaxa. The suits against Boehringer are in multidistrict litigation. The cases are in Illinois federal court and in state courts in Illinois, California and Connecticut. At the time the multidistrict litigation was created in August 2012, there were only 21 pending personal injury suits over the drug.
In December, U.S. District Judge David Herndon, who is the judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation, fined Boehringer nearly $1 million as a penalty for discovery abuses. Judge Herndon found the company’s failure to produce thousands of documents amounted to bad faith conduct. A week later, Judge Herndon ruled that more sanctions could be assessed against Boehringer. After discovery is completed for the bellwether cases, Judge Herndon has indicated he may issue an adverse jury instruction related to the misconduct or impose another nonmonetary penalty, such as striking certain affirmative defenses or barring Boehringer from making certain arguments at trial.
In the same decision imposing the nearly $1 million penalty, Judge Herndon ordered Boehringer to make executives available for depositions in New York or another convenient locale for the Plaintiffs’ counsel. Boehringer appealed that part of the decision. In January, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Judge Herndon had overstepped his authority. The court said that federal law doesn’t give Judge Herndon the authority to order the production of foreign-based individuals for depositions in the U.S.
In late January, Judge Herndon unsealed dozens of documents in the litigation, finding the drugmaker had not sufficiently explained why it had marked them as confidential. He granted the Plaintiffs’ motion to de-designate the “confidential” label on 85 documents. Judge Herndon made exceptions for certain German custodial documents that he said should be released in redacted form.
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