BATON ROUGE — A motion for transfer has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) Oct. 17 regarding serious alleged kidney injuries related to the use of proton pump inhibitors.
“There are 15 actions currently filed in 12 different federal courts around the country,” the motion stated. "However, moving plaintiffs’ counsel have over 5,000 proton pump inhibitor (PPI) possible cases under investigation with additional potential clients making contact and asking for information each passing day.”
The cases currently filed are in California, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia. If the motion passes, all active cases would transfer to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana and new cases would be filed there.
That court was requested, according to the motion, because of the skill and experience of its four judges, because the court has been under-utilized in terms of multidistrict litigations (MDL) and the location is convenient.
The motion also suggests that if the panel does not find the Middle District of Louisiana an appropriate choice, they should also consider the District of New Jersey, Southern District of Illinois, the District of Kansas or the Western District of Louisiana. The benefit to having a court handle MDL is that the cases are handled in an easier and faster with only one judge hearing all of the cases.
Dae Lee, an attorney with Bernstein Liebhard, is working on many of the cases filed in New York.
“Every case is different,” Lee told the Louisiana Record. “The sole reason to set up MDL is to expedite the process, because there will be a lot of these cases filed.”
Although each case is slightly different, they all have one similarity. According to the motion, many of the cases filed claim “negligence, design defect, failure to warn, fraudulent concealment, warranty claims and loss of consortium” as the cause of action.
“We view that actions arise from the same or similar facts and wrongs resulting from ingesting PPIs,” Lee said.
PPIs are used for reducing short-term production of gastric acid which causes heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease and other stomach issues. People who have taken PPIs, such as Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, have allegedly suffered from kidney injuries, such as chronic kidney disease, acute interstitial nephritis and kidney failure.
In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required PPI manufacturers to place warnings on their labels but for many people, the damage had already been done.
“People develop a habit of taking,” Lee said. “If you’re off of them, you’ll experience the symptoms.”
Lee did not say PPIs are addictive but that people who suffer from heartburn or stomach issues must choose between dealing with the discomfort of those issues or running the risk of developing kidney injuries. The JPMDL will likely hold a hearing on the motion in December or January and Lee is confident the motion will pass, although other attorneys may file another motion to have the cases held in a different court. Until the motion is decided on, people may continue filing their cases in their respective courts.