Seroquel Lawsuits: What Is the Path to Settlement?

Right now, most of the over 13,000 Seroquel cases are consolidated in an MDL in Orlando, Florida. Mass tort cases – like the Seroquel lawsuits – are gathered in an MDL for, among other reasons, identification of discovery issues that are common to all of the cases, and to give a lens to the lawyers on both sides as to the settlement value of cases by taking some to trial.

The Florida judge handling these cases has called for the first Seroquel trial to start in February 2009. A group of 12 Serqouel cases has been selected to be tried first. These are called “bellwether” trials (defined as “leader or as a leading indicator of future trends”) that help guide the parties into an accurate understanding of the settlement value of the Seroquel lawsuits. Obviously, particularly in cases of diabetes and pancreatitis, two conditions of wildly varying severity, lawyers on both sides want to try the cases that are best for them on damage and on liability.

Moreover, there is also the question of causation. Seroquel lawyers obviously want the “bellwether” trials to be cases where specific causation is harder for the plaintiffs’ lawyers to prove. In a diabetes case, plaintiffs’ lawyers would prefer someone young and seemingly not likely at risk for diabetes while the Seroquel lawyers would prefer someone who was overweight and at high risk for diabetes. For pancreatitis cases, Seroquel lawyers would prefer someone with a history of alcohol abuse or otherwise at risk for pancreatitis while plaintiff’s lawyers would prefer someone with a clean living history and otherwise at little risk for pancreatitis. In the Seroquel cases, the plaintiffs’ lawyers will chose the first case and the Seroquel lawyers will chose the second and then back and forth until the 12 cases are tried (or the cases settle).

2013 Update: These cases did settle in massive numbers.  But not for very much.