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Despite objections by Johnson & Johnson, in April 2013 Tylenol personal injury lawsuits were consolidated into one court, creating a multidistrict litigation (“MDL”.) The Eastern District of Pennsylvania federal court – with Judge Lawrence F. Stengel presiding – was chosen because the headquarters of McNeil Consumer Healthcare are located within that district court’s jurisdiction. McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson & Johnson, is allegedly responsible for development and distribution of Tylenol. Currently over 140 lawsuits alleging liver damage and/or liver failure as well as failure to warn of the risk of liver damage are pending. Many more lawsuits are anticipated.

According to Judge Stengel’s case management order, six cases would be placed into a trial pool – counsel for plaintiffs and defendants would each select three cases. Bellwether trial cases would be selected from the six cases in the pool. Judge Stengel specified that the bellwether trial cases must include over-the-counter Tylenol products. According to the case management order, this selection process was to take place on or before April 1, 2014. On September 1, 2014, each side of the litigation is to select one case from the trial pool. Both plaintiff and defense counsel will provide the court with a list of reasons as to why the case each selected should be the first bellwether case to be tried. Judge Stengel will make the final selection for the first bellwether trial.

It is not uncommon for MDLs to contain thousands of individual lawsuits, making it impossible for the court to try all cases. Bellwether trials are becoming increasingly common in mass tort litigations. By definition, a bellwether is an indication of future trends. Bellwether trials are used when large numbers of plaintiffs file lawsuits on the same theory of liability against one group of defendants. The outcome of the bellwether trials can determine the outcome of the remaining cases pending in the MDL.

Acetaminophen – the active ingredient in Tylenol products as well as many other over-the-counter and prescription medications – has been a common pain reliever for decades. McNeil Consumer Healthcare has promoted its Tylenol products as being one of the safest painkiller medications on the market. Evidence continues to mount that, even when taken at recommended doses, acetaminophen can cause liver damage and acute liver failure. Acetaminophen is the leading cause of sudden liver failure in the United States.

The Tylenol injury attorneys at Clark, Perdue & List are experienced pharmaceutical injury attorneys, having represented hundreds of people injured or killed because of dangerous drugs and medical devices. If you or a loved one has suffered liver damage as a result of acetaminophen, call Clark, Perdue & List.