Judge overseeing Avandia claims at federal court tosses two cases in MDL docket

By Jon Campisi | Aug 10, 2012

The federal judge in Philadelphia who is overseeing the Avandia multi-district products

liability litigation has granted summary judgment to defendant GlaxoSmithKline as to two of the cases in the mass tort docket.

The pharmaceutical company had sought summary judgment in the two cases because they were allegedly barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

The complaints involved the cases of Marvin Rainey, a Tennessee resident who suffered a heart attack in 2000, a mere year after he began using the drug, and Amjad Faheem, a Kentucky man who started using Avandia in 2001 and suffered a heart attack three years later.

Both plaintiffs filed suit last year alleging their use of the drug, which is designed to treat diabetes, caused their respective injuries.

In seeking summary judgment in the two cases, GlaxoSmithKline sought to establish a “bar date,” or the date by which any plaintiffs may be presumed as a matter of law to have been on notice of a possible link between Avandia and their injuries, and therefore to pursue any tort claims.

The drug company argued that for the plaintiffs to allege heart-related injuries from their use of Avandia, the bar date would have been Nov. 14, 2007.

In an Aug. 7 order docketed at the federal court in Philadelphia, where the Avandia multi-district litigation is playing out, U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe ruled that the plaintiffs in the two above cases did not file their personal injury claims within the applicable statute of limitations, and therefore GlaxoSmithKline is entitled to summary judgment in the matters.

“The Court holds that a reasonable person who knew that he or she had suffered a heart-related injury after taking Avandia was on notice to investigate the possible link between the injury and Avandia use by December 31, 2007,” the ruling states.

Rufe wrote that under the laws of Tennessee and Kentucky, a “reasonable person who knew that he or she had suffered a heart-related injury after taking Avandia was on notice by the end of 2007 to investigate the possibility of a link between Avandia and their injury so as to start the statute of limitations running on tort claims alleging personal injury.”

Rufe went on to state that the ruling does not address Avandia patients who suffered other injuries, such as a stroke, and it doesn’t address other claims against GlaxoSmithKline, only those relating to heart injuries.

The order states that while the lawsuits were filed at the federal court in Philadelphia, under the rules governing multi-district litigation, the laws of the plaintiffs’ respective home states apply, or rather, those states where the plaintiffs received treatment and their prescriptions for Avandia, which are usually their home states.

“This rule will promote uniform treatment between those Plaintiffs whose cases were transferred into the MDL from their home states and those Plaintiffs who filed directly into the MDL,” the order states.

More News

The Record Network