Tylenol Acetaminophen Class Action Lawsuit-Like Conslidation

Harvey Kirk

By Harvey Kirk
Posted February 11, 2013


The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) is expected to hear oral arguments next month over whether all Tylenol liver failure lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the United States should be consolidated for pretrial proceedings before one judge as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

Although such centralized proceedings are often confused with an acetaminophen class action, there are critical differences and it is important for plaintiffs to understand that ultimately each case would still remain an individual lawsuit.

Tylenol is an over-the-counter painkiller distributed by Johnson & Johnson, which has been on the market for decades. The active ingredient, acetaminophen, is also used in a variety of other drugs.

A number of studies have linked Tylenol use to incidents of liver damage, due to side effects of acetaminophen. In fact, acetaminophen overdose is one of the leading causes of liver failure in the U.S., with health officials previously indicating an average of 450 deaths every year, as well as 25,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 emergency room visits every year are caused by acetaminophen.

In recent years, a growing number of product liability lawsuits over Tylenol have been filed on behalf of individuals who allege severe liver damage or liver failure was caused by acetaminophen contained in the medication. The complaints involve similar allegations that Johnson & Johnson and their McNeil subsidiary failed to provide adequate warnings about the potential for liver injury or the risks associated with receiving too much acetaminophen.

It is ultimately expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of lawsuits will be filed in courts throughout the country, raising nearly identical allegations. Therefore, most plaintiffs with pending lawsuits are supporting the consolidation of the Tylenol litigation to avoid conflicting rulings from different judges, reduce duplicative discovery across a large number of cases and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

Tylenol MDL vs. Class Action

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has been asked to centralize all federal Tylenol litigation in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which is where most of the currently filed complaints are pending.

While Johnson & Johnson has opposed the motion, suggesting that the cases will be dominated by individual circumstances surrounding the plaintiffs use of Tylenol and liver injury, such cases are often centralized by the JPML.

If the panel does decide to consolidate the cases, all lawsuits would be transferred to one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings. The cases would be managed in a manner similar to how a Tylenol liver failure class action would be handled during discovery, pretrial motions and other preliminary proceedings that apply to all cases.

Unlike a class action, where all cases are tried through a common class representative, each lawsuit in an MDL would remain an individual claim, where the plaintiff must establish that the Tylenol warnings were inadequate and that the failure to warn was the cause of their liver injury.

Following any proceedings in the Tylenol MDL, including potential “bellwether” trials that may be scheduled to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to response to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout a large number of cases, if an agreement is not reached to settle the Tylenol lawsuits, each remaining case may be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for an individual trial date.

Tylenol MDL Lawyers

The Tylenol liver failure lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. represent individuals throughout the United States who are pursuing a lawsuit for themselves or a loved one who experienced severe problems that may have been caused by side effects of acetaminophen.

All cases are evaluated by our law firm on an individual basis, and given the time and attention necessary to ensure that our clients maximize their recovery. To review a potential claim and determine if financial compensation may be available, request a free consultation and claim evaluation.

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