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Name of NJ Accutane Mass Tort Changed to “Multicounty Litigation” (MCL)

Tracy Ray | September 2nd, 2012

On July 19, 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an order to change the name of mass torts in that state to “multicounty litigation,” or MCL. This affects all mass torts in New Jersey, including the Accutane mass tort, which will now be known as the Accutane MCL.The name change will take effect on Sept. 4, 2012.

This new name is similar to the term used for lawsuits consolidated at the federal level: multidistrict litigation, or MDL.

Name changes, but process remains the same

While the name has changed, the legal process for Accutane litigation consolidated in the MCL remains the same. Consolidated litigation like MDLs and MCLs are established when there is a large number of lawsuits that involve the same product, make similar claims, and present similar evidence. The goal of consolidating litigation in this way is to streamline the litigation process and benefit both plaintiffs and defendants by avoiding duplicate discovery and preventing contradictory rulings by different judges. Any lawyer or individual assignment judge can request that a particular lawsuit be transferred to the MCL, but only the New Jersey Supreme Court decides whether or not the request will be granted.

New Jersey is a popular state for consolidation of lawsuits involving prescription drugs, because several large pharmaceutical companies are headquartered there. Among the mass torts (which will henceforth be called MCLs) based in New Jersey are those involving Accutane, Yaz and Yasmin, Fosamax, and NuvaRing.

New Jersey MCL includes nearly 8,000 Accutane lawsuits

Currently, the New Jersey MCL includes nearly 8,000 lawsuits filed by plaintiffs seeking compensation for Accutane injuries. This year alone, more than 1,150 lawsuits have been added so far. These lawsuits claim that Accutane manufacturer Hoffman-LaRoche did not warn patients or the medical community about the risk of side effects from the acne medication, particularly the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Recently, 8 million in damages were awarded to two plaintiffs whose lawsuits are part of the MCL. As in many other lawsuits, the plaintiffs, Kathleen Rossitto and Riley Wilkinson, charged that they developed inflammatory bowel disease from Accutane.

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