Despite gaining the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval in 1996, Taxotere (generic: docetaxel) has spent years embroiled in litigation. Plaintiffs claim that either Taxotere or docetaxel chemo cocktail treatments caused their permanent hair loss, which is also irreversible. A federal judge already centralized 1,624 claims under the Taxotere multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District Court of Louisiana. Due to number of litigants, Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt appointed two settlement committees before next year’s docetaxel chemo bellwether trials. The legal community is calling it an “unusual move,” that could definitely benefit plaintiffs.
Docetaxel Chemo Plaintiffs Prepare to Face Sanofi in Court
Most plaintiffs assert they weren’t informed that Taxotere can cause permanent alopecia prior to starting treatment. They also claim their oncologists didn’t offer a choice between docetaxel chemo regimens and similar, equally effective medications (like Taxol). Warnings about Taxotere and docetaxel chemo regimens causing permanent hair loss risks were given to European patients back in 2005. And in Canada, Taxotere’s manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, initially warned docetaxel chemo patients and physicians about persistent significant alopecia risks in 2012. However, Sanofi failed to update Taxotere’s U.S. warning label until December 2015 — and only after the FDA finally stepped in. In an effort to resolve these cases faster, the court recently appointed nine lawyers to discuss Taxotere product liability settlements.
It’s an unusual move to make at this early litigation stage, especially before discovery proceedings can begin. Currently, there are two settlement committees: One for the plaintiffs, and one for defendant Sanofi-Aventis. According to Ben W. Gordon Jr., Taxotere Plaintiff Settlement Committee chair, this new trend’s “fairly groundbreaking” for mass tort cases. But Gordon also admits that other federal judges took notice, appointing their own settlement committees in similar product liability MDLs.
What These Settlement Committees Mean for Docetaxel Chemo Plaintiffs
Gordon recently told Pacer Monitor, “Experienced mass tort judges and litigators often recognize that the only way for parties and the court to efficiently exit a large mass tort is to seek global resolution.” But in the past, settlement committees only formed after months or even years of legal proceedings and even some trials. The fact that these committees are already in place before bellwether trials begin make a resolution or settlement more likely.
Both committees meet together regularly to discuss various upcoming trial aspects, including:
- Common understandings
- Anticipated relief
- Ground rules
- Component concepts
- Financial details and much more
What if the Settlement Committees Don’t Reach an Agreement?
Judge Engelhardt also established a “bellwether process” in case the settlement committees cannot reach a resolution before trial proceedings begin. Like other product liability MDLs, these docetaxel chemo bellwether trials should help gauge the jury’s reaction and predict verdict outcomes. Judge Engelhardt selected 10 potential cases for the first bellwether trial scheduled for September 24, 2018. Notably, these docetaxel chemo bellwether trials are set to begin after the Taxotere settlement conference happens on July 6, 2018.
It’s possible that these committees won’t reach a settlement agreement before these upcoming bellwether trials conclude. If that happens, Judge Engelhardt selected four additional cases to represent the 1,624 claims currently centralized under the Taxotere MDL. Judge Engelhardt scheduled these upcoming trial dates for January 28, April 8, July 15 and November 4, 2019, respectively.
If neither the committees nor bellwether trials can reach a settlement resolution, the Taxotere litigation process may take much longer. Federal trial judges will eventually send individual cases back to the original U.S. District Court where plaintiffs initially filed claims. From there, each will receive a new and completely separate trial date.
What Docetaxel Chemo Victims Can Do
If you experienced permanent hair loss after completing Taxotere or docetaxel chemo treatment, you may qualify for a cash settlement. Sanofi-Aventis warned patients and doctors in other countries about Taxotere’s permanent hair loss risks, yet failed to warn U.S. consumers. For this reason, American patients weren’t able to provide fully informed consent before undergoing Taxotere chemotherapy. If you’re one of the thousands of Taxotere victims, we can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Generic docetaxel chemo patients can also join the current Taxotere MDL and qualify for compensation. To get started, fill out your free Taxotere case review form now. Once you’ve submitted your information, an experienced mass tort lawyer will call you to discuss your case and compensation options.
Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.