All the news that’s fit to post

Or at least all the news that arose from last Thursday’s hearing that’s fit to post.  The Plavix–excuse us, Plavix®–argument that opened the hearing was something of a marathon by Panel standards.  But the remainder of the hearing was a sprint that ended less than two hours after Plavix® began.  The Panel initially scheduled only ten proceedings for argument, and five of those fell by the wayside for various reasons.

Of the remaining four, only the first two were entertaining.  Their Honors’ relative feistiness in the Plavix® argument carried over to that in MDL 2419, In re New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc., Products Liability Litigation, as they scored movants’ counsel–at least by Panel standards–for seeking to move the proceeding to the D. Minn. rather than the D. Mass., where the alleged atrocities occurred, the defendant’s bankruptcy is pending, and all others involved want the actions centralized.  Judge Furgeson tried to help movants’ counsel by suggesting “you can see where this is going” as she took the podium for her rebuttal.  She apparently did not see where this is going, and dug herself deeper before the red light mercifully ended the argument.

The argument in MDL 2420, In re Lithium Ion Batteries Antitrust Litigation, was less contentious, but entertaining nonetheless.  When Judge Rendell raised the grand jury convened in the N.D. Cal., movant’s counsel Jim Cecchi* (pressing for the D.N.J.) demurred on the premise that New Jersey bows to no one where dealing with crime is concerned–which drew by a substantial margin the most laughs of the day.  imPaneled encourages the Panel to award points for humor, which would surely enliven its proceedings.  But unless and until it does, MDL 2420 will more likely end up in the N.D. Cal., which otherwise got the best of the argument.

* – Mr. Cecchi presumably pronounced his name correctly (CHECK-ee)–which is notable only because every attorney who followed him pronounced it otherwise.


Mea culpa

imPaneled should have known why certain defendants’ counsel include an “®” next to their every reference to their clients’ products in their briefing–to prevent those trademarked names from losing their value by becoming genericized.  Thanks to Manny Pokotilow and Dan Simons for their insights as to that, and shame on imPaneled for not having recalled that earlier.

That said, if imPaneled were faced with the issue, we would at least try to convince our clients that limiting the ®’s would please most judges, whose relatively aged eyes would prefer as little clutter as possible in their reading material.

In re “Groundhog Day” Panel Proceeding – Part II

When we last visited MDL 2418, In re Plavix Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation (No. II), imPaneled was making light of plaintiffs’ counsels’ excessive respect for one another’s written work product, which resulted in their submitting to Their Honors several largely repetitive briefs.  Unfortunately, the straight arrows at Arnold & Porter chose not to reference that in their reply brief.

They did, however, affix an “®” to their every use of the word “Plavix.”  Never having had reason to consider doing that, imPaneled is at a loss as to its purpose.  Is it so important to remind the world that “Plavix” is a registered trademark that a footnote at the beginning of the brief would not suffice?  More importantly, is there an associate or paralegal specifically charged with proofing briefs to make sure every “Plavix” is accounted for?  Someone missed a few in defendants’ opening brief.  Is that person still with A & P?  Have they been excommunicated from the defense bar?  Anyone who can offer imPaneled any insight will get a free plug in a subsequent post.

Anyhow, Their Honors spared little effort in tipping their hands at Thursday’s hearing (more on that soon), as Judges Breyer and Furgeson subjected plaintiffs’ counsel to focused–nay, withering–questioning as to why the pending actions should not be centralized.  They responded in part to Judge Furgeson by claiming that the “major” plaintiffs’ firms are coordinating their discovery efforts, and that common facts “do not predominate.”  Oy vey.  imPaneled humbly suggests that certain judges should anticipate making room in their dockets for an MDL proceeding.


In re “Groundhog Day” Panel Proceeding

The parties to MDL 2418, In re Plavix Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation (No. II), have something of a knack for repeating earlier events.  The defendant pharmacologists may well benefit from that.  The scads of plaintiffs aligned against them?  Well, let’s just say they certainly admire one another’s written work product, and leave it at that.

Our story begins with MDL 2300, In re Plavix Products Liability Litigation, in which plaintiffs’ counsel represented to the Panel that they could coordinate their discovery efforts in the relatively few cases then pending, absent centralization.  Their Honors denied defendants’ 1407 motion, based in part on the paucity of cases.

Much to defendants’ chagrin, the cases multiplied and the cooperation deteriorated.  In recent months, one plaintiffs’ attorney announced that he would not work with the others, and pressed for separate discovery limited to his case.  When he filed a motion to compel with a return date a week later, defendants reached their breaking point, and within days initiated a new Panel proceeding.

Whatever failure of cooperation afflicted plaintiffs’ discovery efforts did not afflict their response to defendants’ renewed motion.  Over the course of a single day, the private plaintiffs filed six briefs:

  • Three of them opposed centralization in any court.  Two of those briefs were virtually identical.  A third was substantially identical in substance, but its authors managed to rearrange some of the words in the other two.
  • The other three opposed centralization, but proposed alternative transferee courts (the S.D. Ill., the S.D. W. Va. and the N.D. Cal.) in the event that the Panel disagreed.  Those briefs would have been identical, but the authors mixed it up (relatively speaking) by putting the sections in differing orders.  And one added some introductory language copied verbatim from two of the other group’s briefs.

The Mississippi Attorney General’s office filed a brief opposing centralization that was relatively short, but at least original in its entirety.

All seven plaintiffs’ briefs did share one thing in common.  Despite being rife with string citations, none of them undertook to distinguish the cases defendants cited in which the Panel granted a 1407 motion after having previously denied one in the same proceeding.  But two of the plaintiffs’ briefs did cite one of defendants’ cases for an entirely unrelated proposition.  imPaneled was not amused upon  seeing that.

Unfortunately, MDL 2418 was docketed too late to be heard in Dallas later this month.  imPaneled anxiously awaits the oral argument excitement that will be forthcoming in late January.


  • 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.

    You can contact Bart here or connect with him here.

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