Benicar MDL Formed for Sprue-Like Enteropathy Lawsuits

Austin Kirk

By Austin Kirk
Posted April 6, 2015


UPDATE: On August 1, 2017, a $300 million Benicar settlement was reached with the drug makers to resolve certain claims for injuries stemming from use of Benicar, Benicar HCT, Azor or Tribenzor prior to May 2015.

Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. is longer reviewing new cases. The content on this page is provided for informational purposes only.

With a growing number of individuals throughout the United States pursuing a Benicar lawsuit after experiencing chronic diarrhea or other problems associated with a medical condition known as sprue-like enteropathy, a multidistrict litigation (MDL) has been established in the federal court system.

Following the presentation of oral arguments last month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has agreed with plaintiffs that the rapidly mounting Benicar cases will benefit from centralized pretrial proceedings before one judge, to coordinate discovery and the preparation of cases for trial.

According to a transfer order issued on April 3, all Benicar sprue-like enteropathy lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system will be centralized before U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler in the District of New Jersey as part of a federal MDL.

There are currently at least 35 cases pending before 23 different U.S. District Judges nationwide, but it is ultimately expected that several thousand cases will be filed over the coming months on behalf of individuals who have suffered sprue-like enteropathy from Benicar side effects.

After considering the opposition filed by the makers of Benicar, who argued that the cases should continue to proceed without centralized management, the U.S. JPML determined that there are too many common questions of fact and law among the cases filed by individuals who suffered sprue-like enteropathy, which may cause:

  • Chronic Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Gastrointestinal Damage
  • Villous Atrophy
  • Celiac Disease Misdiagnosis
  • Various Forms of Colitis

Benicar Class Action vs. MDL

While such MDL consolidation is often confused with a Benicar class action, there are important differences between an MDL and a class action lawsuit.

Unlike a class action, where all claims would be tried through a class representative, each plaintiff in the Benicar MDL will still have the burden of proving that their injury was caused by the medication and establishing the amount of damages to which they are entitled. Since the circumstances surrounding the use of the medication and gastrointestinal problems will be different in each case, the claims cannot be judged based on the same set of facts.

In the Benicar MDL, Judge Kugler will preside over coordinated discovery into common issues in the cases, including the exchange of documents and depositions of common fact witnesses in the case. As part of the proceedings, it is also likely that Judge Kugler will select a small group of cases, known as “bellwether” cases, to be prepared for early trial dates. These claims will go through case-specific discovery and expert witness discovery regarding the link between Benicar and the diarrhea problems.

While the outcomes of any early bellwether trials are not binding on other plaintiffs, they are designed to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their claims, potentially helping convince the drug makers to consider settling Benicar cases, rather than facing hundreds of individual jury trials for individuals nationwide.

While the Benicar lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are continuing to review potential claims for individuals throughout the U.S. who have been hospitalized with chronic diarrhea or other symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy after using Benicar, Benicar HCT, Azor or Tribenzor, limited time may remain for many individuals to pursue their claims.

The FDA required new Benicar warnings in July 2013, providing information for the first time to consumers and the medical community about the risk of sprue-like enteropathy. Therefore, for individuals prescribed the drug in a state with a two year deadline for filing their claim, the Benicar statute of limitations may require that they take immediate actions to preserve their ability to pursue financial compensation.

To review a potential case for yourself, a friend or family member, Request a free consultation and claim evaluation.

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