Pfizer Wins Zoloft Battle, Plaintiffs Win War

imPaneled has long bemoaned the relative brevity of Panel opinions in recent years.  Yes, Panel opinions tend to ostensibly turn on a small set of factors, which have not changed in ages.  But cookie-cutter opinions provide little grist for imPaneled, and providing grist for imPaneled should be a higher priority for the Panel.

Fortunately, certain plaintiffs in In re Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2342, left the Panel no choice but to explore new territory when they repeatedly insisted that the Panel should deny Pfizer’s motion for centralization because of its allegedly improper removal of several cases on the eve of its filing the motion.  The Panel dismissed that argument:

 [T]he Panel has long held that jurisdictional objections do not overcome the efficiencies that can be realized by centralized proceedings.  The Panel also has held that centralization “does not require a complete identity or even a majority of common factual issues as a prerequisite to centralization”; nor does it “require a complete identity of parties.”

Order, at 2 (citations omitted).

So Pfizer wins.  Right?  Wrong!  Pfizer sought centralization anywhere but the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which has in the past remanded similar cases.  The rebellious plaintiffs had accused Pfizer of seeking to evade those precedents.  If that claim is in fact true–and imPaneled would never accuse a Panel litigant of doing something so underhanded–Pfizer’s effort failed.  But Pfizer did succeed in establishing new Panel precedent, so they have that going for them.

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  • About the blogmaster

    Bart Cohen is the principal of the Law Office of Bart D. Cohen, where he represents his clients in class actions and other complex litigation, and Winning Briefs, where he polishes, edits and drafts written work product for overextended lawyers.

    His unnatural appetites for rules and research of all kinds have made him an expert on proceedings before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. He feeds those appetites and chronicles the battles to land lead counsel appointments that are fought in part before the Panel on imPaneled.

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