Plaintiffs' lawyers seek creation of Tylenol products liability MDL in Phila. federal court

By Jon Campisi | Jan 25, 2013

Plaintiffs’ lawyers representing those who claim their ingestion of Tylenol caused them to

experience liver damage or failure are seeking the creation of an MDL in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to handle the growing litigation.

Attorneys with the Philadelphia law firm of Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman filed a motion this week with the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation requesting that the 28 cases currently pending against McNeil PPC Inc., McNeil Consumer Healthcare and Johnson & Johnson be coordinated and consolidated at the federal courthouse in Philadelphia.

All of the products liability cases referenced by the plaintiffs’ lawyers allege that McNeil marketed and sold its over-the-counter Tylenol products in a manner that concealed the margin of risk of liver toxicity and liver failure.

A total of 21 of the 28 cases are currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and although they were originally assigned randomly to various judges within that district, they have all since been reassigned by the court’s chief judge to U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel, reads the attorneys’ memorandum of law in support of their motion for transfer and coordination or consolidation.

A copy of the filing was provided to the Pennsylvania Record by plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Weinkowitz.

Aside from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, other actions have been filed in eight different federal courts in Mississippi, California, New York, Florida, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

“The legal theories and facts asserted in all of these Related Actions are virtually identical and arise from the identical conduct of the McNeil Defendants’ designing, manufacturing, sale of and putting into the stream of commerce their defective acetaminophen containing OTC TYLENOL products,” the memorandum states.

The attorneys argue that consolidation and setting up the MDL in Philadelphia makes sense, since McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of McNeil-PPC Inc., is headquartered in Fort Washington, Pa., a short distance from Philadelphia.

In addition, McNeil-PPC Inc. and Johnson & Johnson are both located in nearby New Jersey.

Fort Washington and Lancaster, Pa. are the primary manufacturing locations of Tylenol, the attorneys wrote, both of which are located within the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“Consolidation and coordination of these proceedings as an MDL is warranted in light of common questions of fact involved in the Related Actions,” the filing states. “Such consolidation and coordination will conserve judicial resources, promote efficient management of litigation, and avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings.”

The plaintiffs’ attorneys called the Eastern District of Pennsylvania the “best and most practicable” venue to which the various lawsuits should be transferred.

The memorandum goes on to state that Judge Stengel appears open to the assignment of consolidated MDL proceedings in the Tylenol litigation.

Stengel, the attorneys wrote, is a “distinguished jurist who has extensive experience in complex litigation, including multidistrict matters, which is another factor that supports transfer and consolidation of these actions in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.”

The filing was signed by attorneys Arnold Levin, Laurence S. Berman, Fred S. Longer and Michael M. Weinkowitz, all of Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman.

Attached to the memorandum was a request for oral argument in the matter.

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