The Fosamax® MDL proceedings continue to wend their way toward a likely eventual global settlement conference -- but along the way, the plaintiffs' lawyers have been given the right to share medical records, forms and similar documents, inter se -- for the purpose of evaluating claims, and more accurately assessing the numerosity of the claims, as well as the likely average damages. Here is the very able Judge Keenan's order, of last month, from Manhattan's federal district courthouse, in full (latest background here):
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
FOSAMAX PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION 06 MD 1789 JFK
This document relates to all actions.
Case Management Order No. 19
Granting the PSC Access to MDL Plaintiff Profile Forms and Records
On April 18, 2011 the Court notified all parties to this multidistrict litigation (the "Fosamax MDL") that it would grant the Plaintiffs' Steering Corrunittee ("PSC") access to all Plaintiff Proflle Forms, medical records, and dental records, unless a litigant filed a written notice of objection no later than May 18, 2011. The Court has received no objection, and therefore GRANTS the PSC access -- at its own cost -- to all Plaintiff Profile Forms, medical records, and dental records relating to the Fosamax MDL currently in the possession of third-party vendor Medical Research Consultants. The PSC shall have access to these records on the same terms as individual plaintiffs' counsel under paragraph 5 of Case Management Order No. 13. The PSC is directed to use these records solely for the purpose of helping to evaluate the individual cases in the Fosamax MDL, and to abide by the provisions of Case Management Order No. 9 (Stipulation and Order Regarding Confidential Information). The Court remains sensitive to the privacy rights of the individual MDL litigants.
Therefore, the Court DIRECTS counsel for any litigant in a case that becomes a part of the Fosamax MDL subsequent to the entry of this Order, either by transfer of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation or by direct filing in the Southern District of New York, who objects to granting the PSC access to their individual case records, to flle a written notice of objection within two weeks of J.P.M.L. transfer or filing of the case in the SD.N.Y. The Court will consider any litigant in a Fosamax MDL case who does not so object to have consented to the PSC's requested access to medical information in the possession of Medical Research Consultants, and the PSC shall have access to this information by operation of this Order at the termination of the two-week period.
/s/ John F. Keenan,
United States District Court
Dated: May 19, 2011
New York, New York
Do stay tuned, but this order will reduce the overall burden on plaintiffs' counsel significantly -- by not forcing them to "reinvent the wheel" -- when evaluating present and future potential Fosamax ONJ claimants.