Pharmaceutical medication injury lawsuits are not like typical personal injury lawsuits, which are typically filed in the state court where the injured person lives or where the responsible corporation is based. Prescription medications are such a big business - in 2010, diabetic patients spent $3.5 billion on Actos prescriptions - that the prescription medication lawsuits are national in scope.
There are literally thousands of Actos patients in each state who may be entitled to compensation from Takeda Pharmaceuticals for not disclosing the risk of bladder cancer: if each of those patients filed a separate lawsuit, and each lawsuit was heard by a separate judge, the litigation would quickly overwhelm the judicial system. Courts have thus already started consolidating Actos lawsuits into specialized “consolidated” proceedings where all of the major issues in the cases can be decided at once. Consolidation isn't the same as a class action, because the plaintiffs aren't formally joined into one class for all litigation purposes, but for many purposes consolidation functions the same way as a class action.
The real question after consolidation is: which lawsuits will be consolidated in the federal court system and which lawsuits will remain in state court consolidations? The differences between the two can be significant: corporations prefer federal courts because parties are restricted in the amount of documents and verified answers they can demand from the other side, whereas in most state courts the parties in a case are allowed to request all "reasonable" information that could be relevant to deciding the case. That can make a big difference where the injured consumers’ lawyers have to obtain millions of documents to prove their case against the pharmaceutical company.
As a general rule of law, when a person sues a corporation and alleges more than $75,000 in damages - as most of the Actos patients will, because a jury will likely find the compensation for an avoidable case of bladder cancer exceeds $75,000 - then the case goes to federal court. Thus, most of the Actos lawsuits filed will inevitably end up in the federal court system, where they are currently consolidated in front of a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.
There is, however, an exception for where the plaintiff resides in the same state where one of the defendants is located. That's relevant to Actos patients in Illinois and California because Takeda Pharmaceuticals is headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, and has a research division known as Takeda San Diego that conducted a significant amount of testing and research relating to Actos. In particularly, the Takeda San Diego subsidiary was involved in conducting protein crystallographic evaluation of how Actos (pioglitazone) binds to and activates the PPAR-gamma protein, a protein which scientific literature and medical studies have tied to the increased incidence in bladder cancer. Last month, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that Actos lawsuits filed in California should return to California state court because of that connection to Takeda San Diego.
In the end, these tactical decisions by lawyers like us who represent patients who took Actos may make a serious difference in the amount of compensation our clients receive. In our experience, the federal courts can sometimes be too friendly to drug manufacturers, and so we are glad to see that there are other avenues available, at least for Actos consumers in Illinois and California. If you or a loved one developed bladder cancer after using Actos, please contact our product liability lawyers, doctors and nurses for a free, confidential consultation at (215) 866-2424 or by using the contact form at the top.