New Jersey Levaquin Tendon Injury Trial Begins

The first Levaquin tendon injury trial in a New Jersey mass tort litigation got underway this week in the Atlantic County courtroom of Judge Carol E. Higbee. More than 1,763 other <"">Levaquin lawsuits are pending.

Andres F. Alonso, a partner with the national law firm of <"">Parker Waichman Alonso, LLP is lead plaintiffs’ attorney in this first Levaquin trial. Mr. Alonso, whose practice areas include Trials and Mass Torts, also serves as Co-Lead Counsel in the Denture Cream Liability Litigation currently pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division. He is also a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the Yaz and Yasmin multidistrict litigation, and was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the DePuy ASR Hip Implant multidistrict litigation.

Mr. Alonso also served on the Bellwether Preparation Committee for Ortho Evra Products Liability Litigation Multi-District Litigation; the Expert Committee for Kugel Mesh Products Liability Multi-District Litigation; and the Bayer Discovery Committee for Gadolinium Products Liability Litigation Multi-District Litigation.

The plaintiffs in this first New Jersey Levaquin trial are both men over the age of 60 who claim to have suffered tendon ruptures as a result of Levaquin. Among other things, they allege that Levaquin’s maker, Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho-McNeil-Janssen unit, downplayed the drug’s risk to boost sales.

Levaquin was first approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 as an antibiotic for the treatment of various infections. It is in an of antibiotic class known as fluoroquinolones. In 2008 the FDA required that the labeling of Levaquin and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics be revised to include a Black Box warning about tendon injuries. According to the agency, injuries were more likely to occur in people who are over 60 years of age, taking steroids (corticosteroids), or who have undergone a kidney, heart, or lung transplant.

When the FDA mandated the Black Box warning it reported that its database showed 262 reported cases of tendon ruptures, 259 cases of tendinitis, and 274 cases of other tendon disorders associated with this class of drugs. The majority of tendon ruptures – 61 percent – were tied to Levaquin.

More than 3,000 Levaquin tendon injury lawsuits have been filed around the county against Johnson & Johnson. In addition to the 1,763 pending in New Jersey, another 1,314 are pending in a multidistrict litigation in federal court in Minnesota. Two cases have already gone to trial in the federal litigation. The first resulted in a $1.82 million verdict for the plaintiff, while the second ended in favor of the defendant.

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