Disputes Erupt in Xarelto Mass Tort Over Punitives, Experts

As parties begin gearing up for the first bellwether trials to start soon in state court over the blood thinner Xarelto, disputes have flared up over whether punitive damages should be allowed into the cases, and what experts should be allowed to testify.

On Friday, pharmaceutical giant Bayer asked the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to dismiss punitive damages from two cases-one of which is set to go before a jury in November. The same day liaison counsel for the plaintiffs filed two motions seeking to bar defense experts from testifying that attorney advertising can lead to an increase in bleeding incidents, or that bleeding incidents can be beneficial, as they can lead to early diagnoses of conditions like cancer that are typically not easily detectable.

The recent motions come less than a month after a jury handed up the third straight loss for plaintiffs in the consolidated litigation over Xarelto that is pending in federal court. More than 18,000 cases are pending in federal court over Xarelto.

The federal court, like the cases pending in state court, focus on allegations that the blood thinner led to uncontrollable bleeding.

Court records indicate there are about 1,500 cases pending in state court in Philadelphia over Xarelto. The first state court action is set to hit trial in early November, with two more trials following soon after.

Levin Sedran & Berman attorney Michael Weinkowitz is representing the plaintiffs, and Eckert Seamans Cherin and Mellott attorney Albert Bixler is representing Bayer. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which is also a defendant, is being represented by Drinker Biddle & Reath attorney David Abernethy. Weinkowitz and Bixler each did not return a call for comment. Abernethy referred comment to Janssen, and a Janssen spokesman did not return a message seeking comment.

This story is developing.

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