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Federal and State Courts Deny Motions, Set Stage for Abilify Trials

he United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida’s Chief Judge M. Casey Rodgers has released a redacted version of its January 22, 2018 order denying summary judgment against plaintiffs’ claims that the drug Abilify caused them to engage in compulsive behaviors. The plaintiffs, led on the issue by the national trial firm Robins Kaplan LLP® with significant contributions from other MDL leadership counsel, defeated defendants’ arguments that the cases lacked a credible scientific basis. The federal court denied defendants’ motion to exclude with respect to plaintiffs’ leading experts, finding “most of plaintiffs’ evidence on general causation – including epidemiology (i.e., Etminan Study), background risk, biological plausibility, disproportionality analyses, in vivo and in vitro studies, voluminous case and adverse event reports (including dose-response, dechallenge and recehallenge events), FDA materials, defendants’ investigative findings, and plaintiffs’ experts Bradford-Hill and weight-of-the-evidence analyses – satisfies Rule 702 and Daubert…” The decision clears the way for a bellwether trial against defendants Bristol-Myers Squibb, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc., scheduled for June 2018 in Pensacola.

Robins Kaplan also represents approximately 50 plaintiffs in state court in New Jersey before Judge James DeLuca. On January 24, 2018, Judge DeLuca issued an order denying defendants’ Kemp motions. Judge DeLuca found as well that plaintiffs’ experts had a sound scientific basis for their opinions that Abilify causes compulsive gambling and compulsive behaviors. Defendants have sought permission from the appellate court to file an interlocutory appeal of that decision.

“We’re thankful to the courts for their close attention to this case, and look forward to trying these claims before Florida and New Jersey juries beginning in June,” said Tara Sutton, partner and chair of the Mass Tort practice at Robins Kaplan, which serves as lead counsel to the New Jersey plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs in the 700-plus federal court cases and 50-plus New Jersey cases allege that taking Abilify, a treatment for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression which is also prescribed off-label, led them to engage in compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping, hypersexuality, and binge eating. Robins Kaplan has also been appointed to the leadership team in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), which involves nearly 600 plaintiffs.

In the MDL proceeding, Sutton, who was lead counsel in the Daubert hearing, also serves on the Joint Settlement Committee, Gary Wilson serves as co-lead counsel and serves on the Executive Committee, and Munir Meghjee was named Plaintiffs’ Federal/State Liaison counsel.

The New Jersey litigation is Jonathan Yun v. Bristol-Myers Squibb, et al., pending before Judge James J. DeLuca, and the MDL is In re Abilify (Aripiprazole Products Liability Litigation, MDL no. 2734), pending before the Hon. Chief Judge M. Casey Rodgers.

In addition to Sutton, Wilson, and Meghjee, other Robins Kaplan attorneys representing the plaintiffs in these matters include National Women's Trial Lawyers Association member Rayna KesslerJulie Reynolds Eric Lindenfeld, and Jason DePauw.

Rodgers Daubert decision redacted public version[2][4][1]

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