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Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Fen-Phen/Redux Legal News

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Headline Fen-Phen/Redux Legal News from LexisNexis®



 



Judge Says Dispute Over Cause Of PPH Is An Issue Of Fact
PHILADELPHIA - Although a diet drug user must offer a reasonable scientific basis to assert a claim of primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH), it is not the role of the diet drug multidistrict litigation court to make a finding of fact on the relative credibility of the plaintiff's and Wyeth's experts, the MDL judge held Nov. 30 (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; Kathryn A. Decker, et al. v. Indevus Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., No. 06-4461, Mass. Super.; 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88514; See December 2007, Page 13). Full story on lexis.com



Special Master Recommends PPH Plaintiff Not Be Allowed To Pursue Claims At Trial
PHILADELPHIA - The diet drug special master on Dec. 31 recommended against allowing a plaintiff to assert primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) at trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, saying it is a settled claim because the plaintiff failed to rule out primary cardiac disease as a cause of her elevated pulmonary arterial pressure (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa., Nancy Cochran v. Wyeth, et al., No. 000275, Pa. Comm. Pls., Phila. Co.; See December 2007, Page 13). Full story on lexis.com



Court Redefines Special Master's Responsibilities
PHILADELPHIA - Now that Special Master Gregory P. Miller has gone into the private practice of law with Philadelphia's Drinker, Biddle & Reath, the judge supervising the diet drug multidistrict litigation has issued an order resolving potential conflicts between the special master's new and continuing responsibilities (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88962; See September 2007, Page 16). Full story on lexis.com



Improper Opt-Out Suit Ruled A Bar To Woman's Settlement Benefits Petition
PHILADELPHIA - The judge supervising the diet drug multidistrict litigation has ruled that a claimant's failure to withdraw an improper opt-out suit against Wyeth was dismissed with prejudice, precluding her from later seeking settlement benefits (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91175). Full story on lexis.com



Judge Rules Claimants Properly Sought Entry Into Show-Cause Proceeding
PHILADELPHIA - The judge supervising the American Home Products National Settlement has ruled that two claimants may proceed to a show-cause proceeding to argue for payment of claims approved nearly four years ago but later withdrawn (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.). Full story on lexis.com



Class Counsel Says Settlement Echo Criteria Were Chosen As Generous
PHILADELPHIA - Class counsel has responded to three unsuccessful pro se claimants, saying that the echocardiogram criteria in the American Home Products National Settlement Agreement were chosen as the most likely to demonstrate compensable injury levels for most claimants and that other methodologies would not have yielded a better result for the three objectors (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; See December 2007, Page 11). Full story on lexis.com



Law Firm Attacks New Program Notice As Insufficient To Class
PHILADELPHIA - A Missouri law firm has objected to a jointly proposed procedure that would yield reduced benefits but faster resolution of nearly 90 percent of disputed Matrix claims, saying Court Approved Procedure (CAP) 15 does not provide class members with sufficient notice of how their claims would be handled (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; See December 2007, Page 4). Full story on lexis.com



Class Counsel Says Objector Slanders Them, Demonstrates Contempt
PHILADELPHIA - Class counsel has turned up the heat under a Texas attorney who opposes paying a common benefit fee in the diet drug multidistrict litigation as well as the size of the request for more than $400 million in common benefit fees, saying he has added to his alleged sins slander, contempt and violations of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; See November 2007, Page 8). Full story on lexis.com



No Jurisdiction Over Italian Fen Manufacturer In Nevada Courts
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal appeals court has affirmed dismissal of claims against the Italian manufacturer of a fen-phen component used by compounders in the United States, saying removal was proper and the U.S. District Court for the District Court of Nevada to which the suit was removed did not have personal jurisdiction over the firm (Wanda Fisher v. Alfa Chemicals Italiana, et al., No. 05-17402 9th Cir.; 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 28694; See January 2007, Page 4). Full story on lexis.com



Law Firm May Not Rely On Ratification In Dispute Over Costs
HOUSTON - A law firm prominent in diet drug litigation may not assert a defense of ratification to claims that the firm charged one group of clients for expenses incurred on behalf of another group, a federal judge has ruled (Sandra Karnes, et al. v. George Fleming, et al., No. H-07-0620, S.D. Texas, Houston Div.; 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86249). Full story on lexis.com



Magistrate: Eavesdropping Did Not Violate Lawyers' Constitutional Rights
COVINGTON, Ky. - A federal magistrate judge on Jan. 9 recommended against dismissal of charges against three suspended Kentucky attorneys, saying they had not demonstrated a violation of their constitutional rights that would justify so drastic a remedy (United States of America v. William J. Gallion, et al., No. 2:07-cr-39-WOB; E.D. Ky., Northern Div.; See December 2007, Page 15). Full story on lexis.com



United States: Drug Warning Claims 'Impliedly Preempted' But Asks High Court To Hold Off
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. solicitor general on Dec. 21 told the U.S. Supreme Court that failure-to-warn claims involving a drug are barred by implied preemption, but he urged the court not to take up the case until it issues preemption rulings in separate drug and device cases that are pending (Wyeth v. Diana Levine, No. 06-1249, U.S. Sup.). Full story on lexis.com



Supreme Court To Hear Drug Preemption Arguments At Feb. 25 Session
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in its first ever drug preemption case on Feb. 25, the court announced last month (Warner-Lambert Co., et al. v. Kimberly Kent, et al., No. 06-1498, U.S. Sup.; See October 2007, Page 12). Full story on lexis.com



Parties Propose Procedure That Would Resolve Most Claims Held Up By Trust
PHILADELPHIA - The parties in the American Home Products National Settlement have proposed another procedure that would yield reduced benefits but faster resolution of nearly 90 percent of claims flagged by the Settlement Trust for alleged intentional manipulation of their supporting echocardiograms (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.). Full story on lexis.com



Judge Says Claimant Should Not Pay For Trust's Echo Failure
PHILADELPHIA - A claimant whose injury is worth $462,103 should not be penalized by the American Home Products Settlement Trust's failure to provide an adequate echocardiogram, nor should the trust be allowed to use that substandard study to assert a reduction factor in the claimant's compensation, the judge supervising the AHP National Settlement has ruled (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.). Full story on lexis.com



Late Echocardiograms Deemed Not To Be 'Excusable Neglect'
PHILADELPHIA - The judge supervising the American Home Products National Settlement has denied benefits to two women whose private echocardiograms were performed after the settlement deadline; one of the women was suffering from mental illness around the time of the deadline and the other's physician discouraged her from investigating whether the drugs had injured her (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86924). Full story on lexis.com



Diet Drug Judge Rules Mitral Valve Prolapse Requires Measurements
PHILADELPHIA - The unsupported conclusion of a trust auditing cardiologist that "there is evidence of mitral valve prolapse" was ruled insufficient to overcome a detailed explanation by an attesting physician of the appearance of the claimant's mitral valve (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84049). Full story on lexis.com



Reduction Factor Is Binding, Regardless Of Other Echocardiograms
PHILADELPHIA - The judge supervising the American Home Products National Settlement has ruled that it is not necessary for all echocardiograms to reflect a reduction factor for a claimant to be placed on the B Matrix, where benefits are approximately 20 percent those in the A Matrix (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85579). Full story on lexis.com



Judge: 2nd Surgery Qualifies Claimant For Additional Compensation
PHILADELPHIA - The judge supervising the American Home Products (AHP) National Settlement has awarded $347,121 in additional Matrix benefits to a claimant who underwent a second surgery to correct her original valve replacement surgery, overturning the trust's contention that the second procedure was not follow-up surgery as defined in the Settlement Agreement (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.). Full story on lexis.com



Judge Says Trust Must Pay Benefits On Diagnostic Close Call
PHILADELPHIA - Noting that the trust itself regarded the presence of moderate mitral regurgitation (MR) as a close call, the judge supervising the American Home Products National Settlement has ordered the trust to pay $104,453 in Matrix B benefits to a woman with a variety of reduction factors (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.). Full story on lexis.com



Judge Rules Trust Has Not Made Case For Reduction Factor
PHILADELPHIA - A former diet drug user who underwent mitral valve replacement surgery has been awarded nearly $700,000 in A Matrix benefits, overturning the trust's contention that she should be paid about 20 percent of that amount based on the reduction factor of mitral annular calcification (MAC) (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82573). Full story on lexis.com



Judge Says Echo Shows Regurgitation Before Aortic Surgery
PHILADELPHIA - An echocardiogram taken during surgery to replace a former diet drug user's aortic valve shows her level of regurgitation before surgery, entitling her to benefits, the judge supervising the American Home Products National Settlement has ruled (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.). Full story on lexis.com



Pro Se Claimants Seek Removal Of Class Counsel
PHILADELPHIA - Three pro se claimants have moved for the removal of class counsel, saying class members asserting claims for mitral regurgitation whose echocardiograms were done by methods other than the color flow Doppler in an apical view specified in the Settlement Agreement constitute an unrepresented subclass (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; See February 2007, Page 11). Full story on lexis.com



PPH Plaintiff Says Pulmonary Pressure Is A Jury Question
PHILADELPHIA - A plaintiff suing Wyeth for diet drug-induced primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) says whether her pulmonary arterial pressure (PAH) would meet the requirements of the American Home Products National Settlement to assert the claim, in the absence of a drug she uses to reduce that pressure, is a question for the trier of fact (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, Jennifer L. Cueva v. Wyeth, No. 2:04-CV-22451, E.D. Pa.; See November 2007, Page 12). Full story on lexis.com



Wyeth Says Diagnoses Of PPH Do Not Meet Settlement's Definition
PHILADELPHIA - Wyeth argues that to allow two plaintiffs whose pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) does not meet the settlement's definition of primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) to go to trial would "render the . . . protections for which Wyeth bargained a nullity" (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, Kathryn A. Decker, et al. v. Indevus Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., Nancy Cochran v. Wyeth, et al., No. 000275, Pa. Comm. Pls., Phila. Co.; See November 2007, Page 11). Full story on lexis.com



Wyeth Files Motion Saying Plaintiffs May Not Sue The Company
PHILADELPHIA - Wyeth has moved for dismissal of six diet drug lawsuits, saying the plaintiffs never filed the required forms that would allow them to opt out of the national diet drug settlement to pursue such claims (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.). Full story on lexis.com



Trial Is Postponed For Jailed Kentucky Attorneys Pending Evidentiary Probe
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A judge has postponed trial for three jailed Kentucky attorneys to hold an evidentiary hearing Jan. 7 on the defendants' motions to dismiss charges or suppress evidence they say is the fruit of a breach of the attorney-client privilege (United States of America v. William J. Gallion, et al., No. 2:07-cr-39-WOB; E.D. Ky., Northern Div.; See November 2007, Page 14). Full story on lexis.com



Judiciary Committee Airs 'Preemption By Regulation'
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., recently accused the Bush administration of abusing executive authority by attempting to impose federal preemption on legal claims through agency regulations. Full story on lexis.com



Unsuccessful Claimant: Diet Drug Settlement Is Unfair To Obese People
PHILADELPHIA - The American Home Products National Settlement as amended and interpreted by the supervising judge discriminates against obese persons and runs counter to accepted medical practice, an unsuccessful claimant argues to the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, Mary Schrodi v. AHP Settlement Trust et al., No. 07?2943, 3rd Cir.). Full story on lexis.com



Trust Ordered To Pay $1.2 Million To Woman's Estate
PHILADELPHIA - The plain language of the American Home Products National Settlement says a pathologist's exclusion of rheumatic heart damage is dispositive, the judge supervising the settlement said in ordering the trust to pay $1.2 million to the estate and surviving husband of a woman who died in 2002 (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.). Full story on lexis.com



Trust Must Accept Claimant's Registration Despite Late Filing
PHILADELPHIA - A law firm's failure to place a class member's registration for benefits in the mail by the deadline for registration was excusable neglect, the judge supervising the American Home Products National Settlement has ruled, and the trust must register her despite the tardiness (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.). Full story on lexis.com



Objecting Claimant Will Get New Audit, Judge Rules
PHILADELPHIA - The judge supervising the American Home Products National Settlement has resolved conflict over a trust auditor's lapse in board certification for cardiovascular disease by ordering a new audit for the unsuccessful Matrix claimant who objected and allowing to stand the audits of 65 claimants who did not object (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; See October 2007, Page 8). Full story on lexis.com



Class Counsel Says Objectors Lack Standing, Misconstrue Fee Petition
PHILADELPHIA - Class counsel argues that objectors to its petition for a final award of more than $400 million in common benefit fees lack standing to object and misconstrue the law behind such fees and an agreement class counsel reached with more than 50 law firms that allowed the petition to go forward (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; See October 2007, Page 6). Full story on lexis.com



Class Counsel Says Lawyer Seeks Share Of Fee He Opposes
PHILADELPHIA - Class counsel says a Texas attorney who opposes paying a common benefit fee in the diet drug multidistrict litigation (MDL) has filed a lawsuit seeking to obtain a stake in another law firm's share of that very fee (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, E.D. Pa.; See October 2007, Page 8). Full story on lexis.com



Class Counsel Says Wyeth Changes Position On Test For PPH
PHILADELPHIA - Class counsel has weighed in on behalf of two plaintiffs asserting claims of primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH), saying Wyeth has reversed the position it took when it originally urged approval of the national diet drug settlement (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, Kathryn A. Decker, et al. v. Indevus Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., No. unknown, Nancy Cochran v. Wyeth, et al., No. 000275, Pa. Comm. Pls., Phila. Co.). Full story on lexis.com



Special Master Says Measurements Needed To Assert PPH Claim
PHILADELPHIA - A plaintiff suing Wyeth for primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) may not rely on the unsupported statement of a physician that but for her use of medication to reduce her pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP), she would meet the requirements of the National Settlement to assert the claim, the diet drug special master has recommended (In Re: Diet Drugs [Phentermine/Fenfluramine/Dexfenfluramine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1203, Sheila Brown, et al. v. American Home Products Corp., No. 99-20593, Jennifer L. Cueva v. Wyeth, No. 2:04-CV-22451, E.D. Pa.; See September 2007, Page 8). Full story on lexis.com



Judge: Echo Fee Dispute Will Remain In Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS - A dispute over $123,375 between a company that performed diet drug-related echocardiograms and a Dallas law firm it worked for will remain in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana despite the defendant law firm's attempt to transfer venue (Southern Imaging LLC, et al. v. Victor L. Terry, et al., No. 07-3741 Section: "A" [5], E.D. La.; 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80749). Full story on lexis.com



Mississippi Fen-Phen Lawyer Sentenced To 78 Months For Part In Claims Scam
JACKSON, Miss. - A Mississippi plaintiff attorney has been sentenced to 78 months in federal prison and ordered to forfeit $750,000 for his role in the submission of fraudulent fen-phen claims on behalf of clients in a mass settlement (United States of America v. Robert C. Arledge, No. 5:06-cr-18 [DCB] [JCS], S.D. Miss., Western Div.; See April 2007, Page 12). Full story on lexis.com



U.S. Attorney Says No Breach Occurred Of Attorney-Client Privilege
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The U.S. attorney pressing charges against three jailed Kentucky attorneys who defrauded more than 400 diet drug clients of at least $42 million says there has been no breach of the attorney-client privilege because the prosecution team was insulated from disputed evidence by a "taint team" of lawyers not directly involved in the case (United States of America v. William J. Gallion, et al., No. 2:07-cr-39-WOB; E.D. Ky., Northern Div.; See October 2007, Page 11). Full story on lexis.com