PHILADELPHLA – A putative class action filed April 18 in New Jersey Superior Court seeks creation of a court supervised medical monitoring fund and compensatory damages for injuries allegedly caused by the drug Rezulin (Virtue v. Warner-Lambert Co., N.J. Super. Ct., No. BER-L-3168-00, amended complaint filed 4/18100).
The suit was transferred with other Rezulin litigation to Middlesex County Superior Court, to comply with an order issued April 6 by New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Judge Deborah T. Poritz.
The court ordered Superior Court Judge Marina Corodemus and Special Master Joyce M. Usiskin to oversee all pretrial case management and discovery for Rezulin-related lawsuits in New Jersey state courts, and to decide when they are ready for trial “in a venue to be determined.”
Liver Disease, Heart Damage.
The putative class action was filed by three New Jersey residents who took Rezulin, including one with liver disease and another with heart damage they attribute to their use of the drug.
The plaintiffs are seeking certification of a class of state residents that includes anyone who took Rezulin between March 1997 and April 2000, as well as a medical monitoring subclass, a sub class consisting of Rezulin users who suffered heart damage, and a subclass for users of the drug who have suffered liver damage.
The four-count complaint against Warner-Lambert Co. and its Parke-Davis division states claims for negligence, failure to warn, design defect, and consumer fraud under New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and Products Liability Act.
Medical Surveillance Requested.
The plaintiffs allege Warner Lambert concealed or down played information about Rezulin’s adverse side effects to gain federal regulatory approval for the drug and increase its sales. They are seeking unspecified compensatory damages for economic loss including the purchase price of the drug, the out-of pocket cost of interim medical tests and services and “other costs incidental to their ingestion of a harmful and defective product.”
The plaintiffs also asked the court to create a medical monitoring fund to locate people who used Rezulin, analyze data for trends of adverse health effects related to Rezulin use, and provide physicians with information on the diagnosis and treatment of in juries that may result from Rezulin use.
The fund should pay for testing, preventive screening, and care and treatment of liver or cardiovascular problems related to Rezulin use, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs also are seeking treble damages, pre- and post judgment interest, and reimbursement for expenses related to the litigation.
The plaintiffs are represented by Ridgewood, N.J., attorney Joseph R. Santoli, and New York attorney Lee Squitieri of Abbey, Gardy & Squitieri.