Monday, March 26, 2012

Federal judge sets dates for first two trials against Pfizer over Chantix stop-smoking drug


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- A federal judge in north Alabama has set dates for the first two trials to be held in thousands of civil lawsuits filed nationwide against pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer Inc. over Chantix, a drug to help people stop smoking.
The two lawsuits also are part of a pool of eight selected by U.S. District Judge Inge Johnson to be bellwether -- or test -- cases in the litigation. Johnson is to preside over those first trials.
Johnson, in a recent order, set the first case for trial on Oct. 22 in a lawsuit originally filed by Duluth, Minn., resident Judy Ann Whitely against Pfizer for the wrongful death of her husband. Mark Alan Whitely began using Chantix on Nov. 20, 2007, and he committed suicide.
As with many of the lawsuits that were filed using a standard form for the Chantix litigation, the Whitely suit does not give any details of Mark Alan Whitely's suicide, whether he had any other problems, or the date of his death. Efforts to reach the attorneys in Minnesota for Whitely were unsuccessful last week.
The next case is set for Jan. 22, 2013. In that case, a representative of the estate of Sandra Corey, of Jacksonville, Ore., is suing Pfizer for wrongful death. That lawsuit claims that Corey began using Chantix on Oct. 2, 2007, and that the drug caused depression and suicide by gunshot on July 24, 2008.
If both the Whitely and Corey cases are tried as scheduled, the third case would be one filed in 2009 by a Demopolis man, Billy Bedsole Jr., who claims he suffered insomnia, severe anxiety, severe depression, erratic behavior, suicidal ideation and hospitalization after taking Chantix.
If the first two cases are settled, dismissed or resolved, then the Bedsole case would be the first case tried, according to Johnson's order.
While the first two cases slated to be tried in the Chantix litigation deal with completed suicides, the vast majority of the cases deal with claims that Chantix caused various other problems.
So far, 2,498 Chantix cases have been filed against Pfizer from across the country, according to the Birmingham-based Cory Watson Crowder & DeGaris law firm, which is the lead plaintiff firm in the cases. There are 68 additional cases pending in New York state courts, according to that law firm.
The multidistrict litigation process aims to consolidate civil lawsuits with similar claims under judges who will oversee trial preparation to eliminate duplication and inconsistent rulings, and save money for plaintiffs, defendants and the courts.

Posted via email from Jack's posterous

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