Hundreds of Taxotere lawsuits are consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in federal court in Louisiana. The complaints allege Taxotere, a chemotherapy drug used to treat many kinds of cancers including breast, lung, prostate, stomach, and head and neck cancer, can cause permanent hair loss. The manufacturer of the drug, Sonafi SA, is accused of illegally, untruthfully marketing Taxotere as superior to similar competing drugs, while concealing from American consumers the drug’s risk of irreversible alopecia.
“The company knew, at least as early as the late 1990s, of a study showing that 9.2 percent of people who took the drug lost their hair for more than 10 years after taking it but knowingly withheld that information from the public, providing only the vague warning that ‘hair generally grows back,’” said one plaintiff according to Law360.
In November the court appointed attorneys to serve as Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel and Defendants’ Liaison Counsel and to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) for the MDL. The primary function of the PSC is to coordinate the discovery stage of the Taxotere litigation with the defendants’ representatives.
Now in addition to these appointments, in a pretrial order issued Dec. 13, 2016, Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt of the United States District Court Eastern District of Louisiana has appointed settlement committees for both the plaintiffs and defendants.
The five plaintiffs attorneys and four defense attorneys appointed to the settlement committees will serve a one-year term until Jan. 1, 2018, where they will focus their attention on holding regular general settlement discussions. The order says that they will specifically not be engaged in time-consuming tasks, such as detailed discovery, trial preparations, and presentations at trial, that would distract from the pursuit of potential resolution.
“The settlement committees are expected to hold regular discussions, in an attempt to establish common understandings, potential ground rules, component parts and concepts, anticipated relief, necessary approvals, and ultimately financial details, including drafting of all pertinent documents, in an attempt to resolve this matter prior to remand of some or all of the member cases,” the order said.
At the end of the term the Court will appoint or reappoint settlement committee members for the next one-year term from applicants who have submitted applications prior to Nov. 15, 2017.