A U.S. District Judge has issued an order reinforcing the decision of the Special Master of the breast implant multidistrict litigation (MDL) against Allergan. In the order issued on August 10, Allergan was ordered to produce documents related to over 400 patients to inform the bellwether selection process. Plaintiffs claim Allergan breast implants caused them to develop BIA-ALCL, breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a rare manmade cancer.
According to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court can appoint an individual to serve as a Special Master to address pretrial and posttrial matters. The Special Master can adjudicate issues and serve copies of their findings to each party. Objections can be raised with the decisions of a Special Master, which Allergan did regarding the disclosure of documents.
U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti announced that he would stand by the decision made by the MDL’s special master, retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson, requiring that Allergan must hand over documents related to 426 patients at the current stage of discovery.
According to Allergan’s objection, the process of collecting, reviewing, and producing the 426 individual custodial records of their sales representatives would be “excessively burdensome, expensive, and disproportional to the needs of the case” at the stage of the MDL.
In their opposing statement, plaintiffs argue that not only is the assembly of these documents standard procedure in an MDL, but the expense and inconvenience that Allergan is facing is the result of the company’s own failure to maintain a centralized database.
While Allergan had objected to releasing the patient information at the current stage, both sides agreed that the information about communications between Allergan sales representatives and plaintiffs’ treating physicians should come out at some stage. Allergan argued that the information should be released for the smaller group of bellwether plaintiffs, while the plaintiffs argued that they needed the patient information to determine who should be part of the bellwether proceedings.
In his decision supporting the Special Master’s order to disclose all 426 plaintiffs’ information, Judge Martinotti stated that the documentation is “essential to both the claims and defenses in this litigation.” Furthermore, with regard to when the documents should be released, the Judge stated that “Allergan has this information and Plaintiffs will not be able to make an informed decision in selecting bellwether cases without it. The requested information is not novel and has been produced at the fact sheet stage in similar litigations.”
With the latest order, Allergan is now compelled to produce the requested documents to help the plaintiffs put forth their best possible case.