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Court grants Firm client Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation summary judgment in case selected for first wave of trials in New Jersey Aredia® and Zometa® Mass Tort action.

news | April 12, 2010

On April 1, 2010, Judge Jessica Mayer, Mass Tort Judge for the New Jersey Superior Court in Middlesex County, granted firm client Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation summary judgment in Walsh v. Novartis Pharmaceutical CorporationClick here to view opinion. Plaintiff did not oppose Novartis’ motion. Walsh was one of two cases from which the first trial case was to have been selected in the New Jersey Mass Tort for Aredia® and Zometa®. Plaintiff Mary Walsh claimed that her use of Novartis’ FDA-approved bisphosphonate drug Zometa® caused her to develop osteonecrosis of the jaw and that Novartis failed to adequately warn of this risk. Novartis sought summary judgment because, at all times relevant to the litigation, the drug labels for Zometa® contained information in the precautions section regarding ONJ and were FDA approved, giving them a presumption of adequacy under New Jersey’s Product Liability Act. Additionally, both of plaintiff’s prescribing physicians testified unequivocally that they were aware of the risk of ONJ associated with Zometa® use before they prescribed the drug to Walsh. Accordingly, because New Jersey recognizes the learned intermediary doctrine, under which a pharmaceutical manufacturer satisfies its duty to warn by informing the prescribing physician of known risks associated with its products, Novartis satisfied its duty to warn. Novartis also argued that plaintiff could not meet her burden of establishing specific causation in the event that the testimony of her case-specific expert was excluded under New Jersey’s Kemp standard. The Court’s Order granting summary judgment stated “Having reviewed the above motion, I find it to be meritorious on its face and is unopposed. Pursuant to R. 1:6-2, it therefore will be granted essentially for the reasons set forth in the moving papers.”