Civil Procedure

Seeking to sue drugmakers in state court, some lawyers add pamphlet publishers as defendants


Lawyers representing plaintiffs in lawsuits claiming personal injury due to taking dangerous drugs have discovered they have another weapon in their arsenal.

Seeking to avoid being included in cumbersome multidistrict federal litigation that can slow down a client’s case, a number have begun suing the publishers of pamphlets about the medication, Reuters reports.

While that tactic will almost undoubtedly be unsuccessful as far as winning a judgment against the publisher is concerned, it can accomplish another important goal—keeping the case in state court, especially in states that are considered friendly forums for plaintiffs. If the publisher has a presence in the same state as the plaintiff, that can destroy the diversity jurisdiction needed to pursue a federal case, the news agency explains.

“It’s a complete farce,” said attorney Michael Imbroscio of Covington & Burling, who represents defendant drug companies. “I’ve yet to see a case where the plaintiffs have a serious intention to pursue the monograph provider.”

However, attorney David Matthews of Houston, who represents plaintiffs, tells Reuters that the tactic serves an important purpose.

“Multidistrict litigation can be a black hole,” he said. “Often, I represent clients who are gravely ill and need swift justice.”

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