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In re Valsartan N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) Contamination Prods. Liab. Litig.

United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Camden Vicinage

September 18, 2019, Decided; September 18, 2019, Filed

Civil No. 19-2875 (RBK/JS)

Opinion

 [*612]  MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This Opinion addresses defendants' request for discovery directed to plaintiffs' "litigation funding."1 Generally, defendants want to discover whether plaintiffs are backed by litigation [**24]  funders, the details of the financing, and communications regarding the financing. The Court received defendants' letter brief [Doc. No. 189] and plaintiffs' opposition [Doc. No. 188]. The Court exercises its discretion to decide this discovery dispute without oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L. Civ. R. 78.1. For the reasons discussed herein, defendants' request is denied.

Background

By way of background, this Multidistrict Litigation ("MDL") concerns various FDA and voluntary recalls of contaminated valsartan, a generic prescription medication indicated in the treatment of high blood pressure and other conditions.2 The February [*613]  14, 2019 Transfer Order of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is reported at In Re: Valsartan N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) Contamination Products Liability Litigation, 363 F. Supp. 3d 1378 (MDL No. 2875 2019). Plaintiffs generally allege defendants' valsartan contained carcinogens that caused personal injuries and economic losses. Defendants deny their drugs caused any injuries or damages, although it is not disputed that at least some of defendants' drugs were contaminated. Presently approximately 60 defendants are named. These defendants include manufacturers of the active pharmaceutical ingredient ("API"), suppliers, [**25]  repackagers, wholesalers, and retailers. Some of the "lead" defendants, API manufacturers, are located in China and India. Given the number of potential plaintiffs, the amount in dispute, the seriousness of plaintiffs' claimed injuries, and the fact that some "target" defendants are located overseas, this MDL will undoubtedly be costly to prosecute and defend.

Since the first case management conference in March, 2019, much has been done to organize and manage the case. This includes designating and approving the parties' leadership structure (CMO No. 6, Doc. No. 96), and identifying the "core discovery" to be produced by defendants (April 29, 2019 Order, Doc. No. 88).3 In June, 2019, three consolidated "master complaints" were filed. These complaints generally grouped plaintiffs into three categories. The first master complaint addresses the claims of individual plaintiffs [Doc. No. 122] who allege they contracted various forms of cancer from consuming defendants' contaminated valsartan. To date approximately 126 personal injury cases of this type have been filed. Plaintiffs' counsel estimates approximately 2,000 cases may eventually be filed. The second master complaint [Doc. No. 123] [**26]  is a nationwide medical monitoring class action filed on behalf of all "individuals who consumed [contaminated] generic valsartan-containing drugs ... at least since January 1, 2012[.]" Id. at ¶390. The potential class size is undoubtedly in the tens of thousands. The third master complaint (Doc. No. 121) is a nationwide economic class action filed on behalf of "[a]ll individuals and entities ... who, since at least January 1, 2012 to the present, paid any amount of money for a valsartan-containing drug [.]" Id. at ¶413. This class size is also expected to be very large.

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405 F. Supp. 3d 612 *; 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160051 **; 2019 WL 4485702

IN RE: VALSARTAN N-NITROSODIMETHYLAMINE (NDMA) CONTAMINATION PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION

Prior History: In re Valsartan N-Nitrosodimethylamine Ndma Contamination Prods. Liab. Litig., 363 F. Supp. 3d 1378, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24045 (J.P.M.L., Feb. 14, 2019)

CORE TERMS

discovery, funding, plaintiffs', defendants', documents, funder, finance, third-party, discovery request, in camera, communications, funding agreement, contaminated, disclosure, good cause, speculation, cases