What Are Defendants Hiding in NuvaRing Multidistrict Litigation?
Multidistrict litigation differs from class action lawsuits in that each plaintiff pursues individual lawsuits, but the discovery and pretrial phases are consolidated for purposes of judicial economy. In Re: NuvaRing Products Liability Litigation, No. 08-md-1964, (E.D.Mo.) is an ongoing federal MDL case against pharmaceutical manufacturers Merck, Schering-Plough and Organon. (Another mass tort case is pending in New Jersey state court.) The plaintiffs are over 900 women who alleged the hormonal birth control caused heart attacks, stroke, blood clots, organ damage and pulmonary embolisms.
As electronic discovery documentation has been ongoing, defendants are making various unusual discovery requests and objections. In October, defendants requested to have ex parte communications with plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, in other words, outside the presence of the plaintiff trial attorneys. Unsurprisingly, the district court denied defendants’ request.
Defendant Organon also filed a request to seal some internal documents requested in plaintiffs’ electronic discovery requests on the grounds that disclosure would affect its reputation. After consideration, the judge found there was no trade secrets at risk of misappropriation and ordered the discovery documents produced unsealed. Trials are currently set to begin in the federal NuvaRing MDL beginning May 2013.
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