The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) recently ordered all federally filed Tepezza lawsuits consolidated into the Northern District of Illinois. The Honorable Thomas M. Durkin was appointed to oversee the proceedings.
Tepezza (teprotumumab) is a medication used to treat thyroid eye disease (TED). Recent research has suggested that patients taking the drug may have an increased risk of hearing loss.
Plaintiff’s Motion Seeks Consolidation in California
Back in March 2023, one plaintiff involved in the Tepezza litigation filed a motion with the JPML seeking consolidation of Tepezza lawsuits. At the time, at least 18 cases were pending in five different judicial districts alleging similar wrongful conduct on the part of Tepezza manufacturer Horizon Therapeutics.
The plaintiff argued that transfer was appropriate because:
- each of the pending actions as well as any that may be filed in the future arise out of the same facts and alleged wrongful conduct
- all actions will involve the resolution of similar questions of fact and law
- discovery will be substantially similar and involve many of the same documents and witnesses
The plaintiff suggested the Northern District of California as the most suitable venue for the proposed Tepezza MDL. Part of the reason for this suggestion was that Horizon Therapeutics, which is headquartered in Lake Forest, Illinois, was recently purchased by Amgen Inc., which is headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California.
Defendant Opposes Centralization
In April 2023, Horizon Therapeutics filed a response in opposition to that motion, stating that the movant had failed “to satisfy her heavy burden of demonstrating that centralization would promote the just and efficient conduct of these proceedings.”
The company further argued that centralization was inappropriate because of the limited amount of claimants, and because the number of patients treated with Tepezza “is limited by the fact that it is an orphan drug used for treatment of a rare disease and approved by the FDA just over three years ago.”
Given the small number of actions, the company asserted that the parties were already engaged in voluntary cooperation and didn’t need formal centralization to work together.
Finally, Horizon Therapeutics suggested the Northern District of Illinois should the JPML “ultimately concludes that centralization is merited.” They chose this district because it’s where the U.S. headquarters for Horizon is located. It’s also the location of the first-filed Tepezza lawsuit as well as 15 of the cases already pending.
Panel Rejects Defendant’s Arguments
After considering both sides of the argument, the JPML found that consolidation would serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and would promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.
The panel was not persuaded by the defendant’s arguments, noting that informally coordinating the cases would be “increasingly challenging for the parties and the courts if the number of actions rise…” They added that “having multiple judges resolve these common preemption arguments about the same drug” would be a “highly inefficient arrangement…”
The panel did agree with the defendant that the Northern District of Illinois was the appropriate venue for the MDL.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.