J&J suits get 'mass' status in Vioxx court

The New Jersey Supreme Court deemed litigation over Johnson & Johnson's antibiotic Levaquin as a mass tort, which is expected to encompass thousands of cases. The lawsuits allege that Levaquin caused Achilles' tendon ruptures and other tendon damage. The kicker: the litigation will be heard in the court of Judge Carol Higbee, in Atlantic County. The same court that hosted the infamous $4.85 billion Vioxx settlement.

J&J had argued for Middlesex County, which is closer to its HQ. But in petitioning for Higbee's court, plaintiff's lawyer Michael London argued that her experience with high-volume liability cases--such as Vioxx--would help in the Levaquin litigaton. 

The FDA asked J&J and other drugmakers to add warnings of tendon damage and rupture to Levaquin and its sister meds in the fluoroquinolone class. That was in 2008. Levaquin had been approved since 1996, however. In addition to London's six Levaquin suits, Lanier Law Firm--also of Vioxx fame--and a New York firm have sued J&J over the drug in New Jersey. In his petition, London said that "other national firms" also expect to sue in the state.

- read the New Jersey Law Journal story
- check out the post at BNet Pharma