Novartis wins again as plaintiff’s rush to courthouse ruled no excuse for ignoring New Jersey Supreme Court directive.
N.J. Super. Ct. -- New Jersey Superior Court
In a June 6 order released today, New Jersey Judge Jared Honigfeld denied plaintiff Delores Kuch’s motion to reconsider the dismissal of her lawsuit against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, in which she alleged that Novartis’s drugs Zometa® and Aredia® caused plaintiff to develop osteonecrosis of the jaw and a femur fracture. Kuch v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., No. MRS-L-3157-13 (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div. June 6, 2014). By filing the case in Morris County, plaintiff violated a New Jersey Supreme Court directive to file all personal injury cases involving Novartis’s bone-drugs Zometa® and Aredia® in a mass tort proceeding underway in Middlesex County.
Judge Honigfeld rejected plaintiff’s purported justification for violating the Supreme Court’s directive – that “time constraints required a filing in the closest courthouse” in an attempt to beat the statute of limitations. The court found that plaintiff’s counsel “simply chose to ignore” the Supreme Court’s directive “as a matter [of] convenience,” despite counsel’s years of experience in the mass tort and counsel’s awareness of the directive. Moreover, the court observed that plaintiff had mooted her motion for reconsideration by filing a duplicate case in Middlesex County as a part of the mass tort after the court’s original February 14 dismissal order. Thus, the court declined to reconsider its dismissal of the Morris County complaint.
The win continues Novartis’s string of successes in the New Jersey state court litigation. Just last week, Judge Jessica Mayer, presiding over the mass tort, granted Novartis summary judgment in one of four cases selected for a potential bellwether trial this fall. Barwell v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., No. MID-L-9866-07-MT (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div. Jun. 6, 2014). Plaintiffs previously voluntarily dismissed a second of the bellwether cases. Novartis also has won defense verdicts in the only cases to reach trial in New Jersey to date (Bessemer v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., No. MID-L-1835-08-MT (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div. Oct. 10, 2010); Meng v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., No. MID-L-7670-07-MT (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div. May 15, 2013)), as well as in the two most recent cases to reach trial in the nationwide litigation (Earp v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., No. 5:11-cv-680-D (E.D.N.C. May 14, 2014); Dopson-Troutt v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., No. 8:06-cv-1708-T-24-EAJ (M.D. Fl. April 9, 2013)).