So far, there have been thousands of Reglan lawsuits filed — so many, in fact, that they have been consolidated in a New Jersey court. This is called centralized management, not to be confused with multidistrict litigation (MDL) or a real class action. Still, centralized litigation offers the same expediency in dealing with the many lawsuits.
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) that ruled in favor of the centralized litigation had many reasons for denying the lawyers the MDL that they requested. This panel consisted of seven federal officials of high rank. They ruled that MDL was just not the right choice with regards to the Reglan lawsuits. One of the reasons they decided this was because a lot of the litigation that was to be consolidated was “substantially advanced,” in that five out of the eleven lawsuits began many years before the JPML decision.
The panel also decided that since there was no single defendant involved in the case, it would be too difficult to consolidate into an MDL. While Schwarz Pharma owns the patent on the brand-name version of Reglan, there are many companies that make and sell the generic version. The last reason why the Reglan lawsuits were centralized instead of handled as an MDL is because the JPML decided that a great deal of the pre-trial workup that is usually done for an MDL had happened already, so it would be a waste of resources to repeat it.
“Metoclopramide litigation has a lengthy history,” the chairman of the JPML, Judge J. Frederick Motz, wrote when denying the transfer. “The record indicates that a significant amount of the common discovery has already taken place.”
While this may force the litigation to take longer, there were just too many reasons not to funnel the lawsuits into a single federal court. Thousands of Reglan lawsuits are expected to be tried before manufacturers see the end in sight.