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Federal Court grants summary judgment filed by Firm client Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation in five suits brought by foreign plaintiffs.

news | February 2, 2009

On December 2, 2008, Chief Judge Todd J. Campbell of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee granted summary judgment to Firm client, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (NPC), in five lawsuits brought by plaintiffs residing outside the United States involving allegations that the prescription of medications Aredia® and/or Zometa® caused osteonecrosis of the jaw.  In re: Aredia and Zometa Products Liability Litigation, No. 3:06-MD-1760, slip op. (M.D. Tenn., Dec. 2, 2008).  Chief Judge Campbell recognized that “[a] fundamental principle of traditional product liability law is that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant supplied the product which caused the injury.”  In response to NPC’s motion and supporting affidavit asserting that it did not manufacture or sell the products with which the foreign plaintiffs were treated, plaintiffs requested additional discovery pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f).  Plaintiffs did not produce any evidence controverting NPC’s contentions. Chief Judge Campbell held “[t]he burden of establishing the need for further discovery rests on the party advancing the request.” Moreover, he held that plaintiffs failed to meet that burden:

the issue about which Plaintiffs seek additional discovery if a fundamental element of each of their claims: whether Defendant, in fact, supplied the product which caused their alleged injuries. Plaintiffs bear the burden of establishing the product identification information necessary to sue the correct Defendant. Plaintiffs did not need formal discovery in order to investigate whether Defendant in fact manufactured, sold or distributed the Aredia and/or Zometa which they received and should have made that determination prior to filing suit or certainly by this point in the litigation.

Accordingly, Chief Judge Campbell granted summary judgment for NPC.

The MDL coordinating cases involving Aredia® and/or Zometa® was assigned to Chief Judge Campbell by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on April 18, 2006.  Hollingsworth LLP is counsel to Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.