While AstraZeneca preps for its first Seroquel liability trials at the state level, federal lawsuits are coming closer to court as well. U.S. District Judge Anne Conway, who's overseeing pretrial work for thousands of federal Seroquel cases, said she will ask a panel of judges to send all those cases to their home courts for possible trial. That's up to 6,000 trials. But while lawyers for Seroquel users said Conway's ruling would "get the litigation moving," it won't put cases on the docket very quickly.
AstraZeneca's attorneys had wanted Conway to send only 60 or so cases--which allege Seroquel causes diabetes and that the company downplayed those risks--back to courts in four states: California, Mississippi, South Carolina and Ohio. The company wanted to deal with a small number of trials as test cases. That would give the company and plaintiffs "the benefit of knowing what juries think of these cases," AZ lawyer Mike Brock told Bloomberg.
Conway denied that request, but did agree to ask judges across the country to hold off on their trials until she decides whether 54 suits in Florida and Alabama should see court time. Although AZ doesn't get to pick the venues for 60 test cases, those 54 suits will have a bit of a head start. So the company might still get an idea of what juries think before the many thousands of other suits are ready to go.
Meanwhile, Conway also ordered AstraZeneca to meet with a mediator to explore a possible settlement of the entire kit and kaboodle. Spokesman Tony Jewell told Bloomberg that the company still "believe[s] these cases are without merit, but we will honor the judge's request."
- read the Bloomberg piece