NEW ORLEANS — A recent, sudden surge in Taxotere lawsuit filings in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana has caught Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch's attention.

According to a news release from Schmidt National Law Group, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation's Feb. 15 docket report shows 755 pending actions in the Taxotere litigation, up 50 from the panel's Jan. 17 report. Bernstein Liebhard LLP in New York reported in its Jan. 20 news release that the 705 pending actions as of Jan. 17, 2017, showed an increase of 443 pending actions in the Louisiana district since Dec. 16, 2016.

LLAW Executive Director Melissa Landry said the surge in lawsuits is a result of vigorous advertising by personal-injury attorneys.

“Personal-injury lawyers are using aggressive legal ads to try and scare women into filing these kinds of lawsuits," Landry told the Louisiana Record via email. "Some of the claims can be terrifying, but it is important to remember these are unregulated, unsubstantiated and unbalanced legal ads designed by personal-injury lawyers seemingly for the sole purpose of drumming up lawsuits. Consumer[s] should always be on guard about solicitations to join mass litigation such as this. Like all businesses, personal-injury attorneys need a product that will sell and customers who will buy. In the case of trial lawyers, the product is litigation and their potential customers are each and every one of us.”

Landry said Louisiana is a jurisdiction of particular interest in mass-tort litigation.

"Without question, LLAW will be keeping a close eye on this case," she said. "Louisiana is a sought-after jurisdiction for mass-tort litigation such as this due to the nagging perception that the scales of justice here are tilted in favor of personal-injury lawyers and their clients. For years, our state has been described as a judicial hellhole because it seems some judges routinely apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner."

Taxotere is a cancer medication that doctors use to treat breast, lung, prostate, stomach and head or neck cancer, according to The lawsuits allege Taxotere caused permanent hair loss.

Carrie Brown, the senior director of communications at Sanofi, the company that makes Taxotere, said in a December Louisiana Record story that the company has regularly provided safety information on Taxotere to the Food and Drug Administration.

According to the FDA website, the warning that cases of permanent hair loss had been reported showed up on Taxotere's label in the United States in December 2015. Brown said that the company made that change in December 2015 after the company spoke with the FDA.

Taxotere has been approved in the United States since 1996.

Brown was contacted for this story and offered to submit a statement on behalf of Sanofi, but she did not submit a statement.

Landry said plaintiffs attorneys use advertising in mass-tort lawsuits.

“Advertising by plaintiff's attorneys on mass-tort lawsuits is a big business in Louisiana and throughout the country," she said.

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