Alabama Is Now Ground Zero For Chantix Lawsuits

J. Cooper Carlisle | May 11th, 2011

Though the large number of Chantix lawsuits filed around the country in the last few years were brought as separate complaints by unconnected plaintiffs, the United States Panel on Multidistrict Litigation recently chose to centralize all federal Chantix litigation in Alabama.

Chantix multidistrict litigation (MDL)

Multidistrict litigation (MDL) is usually ordered in cases where numerous individual plaintiffs located in a multitude of judicial jurisdictions all file discrete lawsuits against a shared defendant. In the case of Chantix lawsuits, consolidation was deemed appropriate by the panel because of the fundamental similarities in the complaints. In other words, plaintiffs were all suing Pfizer for the same reason, namely, that the company failed to adequately warn users about the harmful side effects of the drug meant to help patients kick their smoking habits. These Chantix side effects can include mood swings, depression, aggressive behavior, psychosis, and suicide.

Chantix lawsuit consolidation

What does consolidation mean for a Chantix lawyer or plaintiff? All Chantix lawsuits will now be reviewed together in a single court to prevent contradictory rulings or duplicate discovery. In regard to Chantix litigation in Alabama, the federal hearing panel issued a transfer order to assign all existing and future Chantix lawsuits to the Northern District Court for pre-trial hearings to be overseen by Judge Inge P. Johnson.

Chantix multidistrict litigation as different from Chantix class action

It is important to note that multidistrict litigation does not merge all the individual lawsuits into one case, as occurs with class action suits. In class action suits, the plaintiffs are so large in number that a few or even one are elected to represent the entire group in a single lawsuit, with any awarded damages being evenly distributed amongst everyone, regardless of differing degrees of injury. Multidistrict litigation, by contrast, associates, but does not reduce in number, the individual lawsuits; plaintiffs are therefore more likely to be awarded compensation based on the specific level of their injury. With MDL, the likelihood of settlement before trial is also significantly increased.

Though class action suits have been launched against Pfizer in Canada and Europe due to Champix (the international name for the cessation drug), none are currently pending in the United States.

The outcomes of Chantix lawsuits are still uncertain. Pre-trial depositions have begun, though trial dates, anticipated for 2012, have yet to be set. One thing that does seem certain is that more and more lawsuits will join the massing wave of Chantix litigation in Alabama as proceedings move towards trial.