Order Requires Disclosure of 3rd Party Funding Information in Zantac MDL

On April 3, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued an order in the pending Zantac multidistrict litigation (”MDL”) requiring disclosure of funding arrangements and funding documentation between plaintiffs’ counsel and third-party litigation financiers. This order represents some increased traction in favor of arguments seeking to require disclosure of third-party funding arrangements in MDLs.

The Zantac MDL, In re Zantac (Ranitidine) Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2924, was originally formed by the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation on February 6, 2020. The plaintiffs sued various defendants, including manufacturer Sanofi and its distributors, alleging that the active ingredient in the heartburn medication Zantac breaks down to form a carcinogen that caused personal injuries. Included in the MDL are also six putative classes of consumers who sought refunds and economic damages based on their purchase of Zantac. Due to a number of actions already pending in the Southern District of Florida, the Panel transferred the remaining actions to that court to be assigned to the Honorable Robin L. Rosenberg.

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Why Reformers Want Disclosure Of 3rd-Party MDL Funding

It is no secret that third-party litigation funding, or TPLF, has become an increasingly common practice. One area particularly affected by this trend is that of mass tort actions and multidistrict litigations, where funding is now more than ever being utilized to finance voluminous and prolonged proceedings.

While courts have historically been reluctant to require disclosure of funding agreements and information, precedent suggests that different approaches may be warranted in the MDL context because of considerations unique to those proceedings — including potential for bias, distortions of control and decision-making as between litigants and funders, and conflicts of interest between funders and the judiciary.

Against this backdrop, advocates of disclosure have taken a proactive role in seeking further changes to rules of discovery and disclosure to address these issues. Litigants should be aware of these emerging efforts toward change, and the reasons underlying them, as the use of litigation funding continues to rise.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris attorneys Anne A. Gruner, Justin M. L. Stern and Nicholas M. Centrella Jr., please visit the firm website.

Much of Oklahoma’s $572 Million Opioid Case Likely to Be Replicated Elsewhere, But Unique Cause of Action May Not

On August 26, 2019, Cleveland County, Oklahoma, District Judge Thad Balkman delivered his highly anticipated ruling in the state of Oklahoma’s lawsuit against certain pharmaceutical companies responsible for manufacturing and marketing prescription opioid medications. Because the other pharmaceutical companies named in the state’s case settled with the Attorney General’s Office earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals remained the primary subjects of the evidence at trial and the focus of the attention surrounding Judge Balkman’s then-forthcoming ruling.

As Judge Balkman stated in the published judgment, the defendants knowingly and misleadingly marketed their highly addictive prescription opioids, and by doing so caused harm for which the state could seek redress, as their “actions annoyed, injured, or endangered the comfort, repose, health or safety of Oklahomans.”

View the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.