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In re Bard IVC Filters Products Liability Litigation

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 21, 2019

IN RE Bard IVC Filters Products Liability Litigation,

          CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER NO. 42

          David G. Campbell Senior United States District Judge

         (Tinlin Trial, SNF Cases, Duplicative Cases, Settlement Procedures and Remand or Transfer)

         The Court held a case management conference with the parties on March 18, 2019. Doc. 16093. The conference concerned issues raised in the parties' joint status report (Doc. 15948) and other matters. On the basis of the conference, the Court enters the following orders:

         1. Tinlin Trial (including change of pretrial conference date).

         a. Plaintiffs' counsel provided information suggesting that Mrs. Tinlin will not be able to travel to Phoenix for trial and asked that she be permitted to testify and observe portions of the trial remotely. Doc. 15693. Defendants do not oppose the request, but ask that various procedures be put in place to ensure that no prejudice results from her remote testimony and observation. Doc. 15954. Plaintiffs are directed to work with the Court's technology staff and the federal district court in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to arrange for Mrs. Tinlin's video testimony during trial. Assuming adequate technical arrangements can be made, the Court further concludes that (1) Mrs. Tinlin will be alone in a room with a videographer and courtroom deputy clerk at the time of her testimony, although counsel for both sides may be in the courthouse to deal with any issues that arise; (2) the parties shall confer about exhibits to be used during her testimony, and a complete set of marked exhibits will be provided for the clerk to place in front of Mrs. Tinlin during her testimony; (3) Plaintiffs shall pay any costs associated with the remote testimony; (4) the parties shall confer and propose a jury instruction that can be read during trial to explain Mrs. Tinlin's absence from trial and the reasons for her remote testimony; and (5) Mrs. Tinlin may observe other portions of the trial from the remote location, but will not appear via video while observing the proceedings. With these safeguards in place, the Court finds that Mrs. Tinlin's remote testimony satisfies the high standard in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 43(a) for remote testimony during trial. Plaintiffs' motion (Doc. 15693) is granted.

         b. Due to scheduling issues, the date for the final pretrial conference will be changed from April 30 to April 29, 2019. The conference will begin at 10:00 a.m. on April 29, 2019.

         c. Plaintiffs have filed a motion to seal their unredacted summary judgment materials. Doc. 15695; see Docs. 15071, 15072 (sealed lodged proposed documents). The motion fails to address the applicable compelling reasons standard. See Kamakana v. City & Cty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1180 (9th Cir. 2006). The Court denied a similar motion filed by Defendants. See Docs. 15072, 15175. Plaintiffs' motion to seal (Doc. 15695) is denied without prejudice. The parties shall have until March 29, 2019, to file new motions to seal that address the relevant legal standard.

         2. Simon Nitinol Filter (“SNF”) Cases.

         Case Management Order No. 41 directed Plaintiffs' lead counsel to contact and confer with attorneys representing SNF clients in this MDL proceeding, to inform these attorneys that the Court is requiring them to organize into a Plaintiffs' steering committee for SNF cases and to assist in the management and efficient litigation of those cases, to inform them that they must confer with defense counsel regarding an appropriate schedule and procedures for preparing the cases for trial, including the five topics identified in the parties' previous joint status report (Doc. 14870 at 3), and to be prepared at the case management conference on March 18, 2019, to put in place the leadership structure for the SNF cases. Doc. 15176 at 2. Once lead plaintiffs' counsel were identified for the SNF cases, the Court would require them to reach agreement on the establishment of a common fund for the SNF cases, which the Court presumes would be similar to the common fund established for the rest of this MDL. Id.; see Doc. 372 (CMO No. 6). The Court's intent was to complete discovery and motion practice on the SNF cases in the most efficient manner possible and, if necessary, hold one or two bellwether trials on the SNF cases. Id. at 2-3.

         Plaintiffs' lead counsel report that they have contacted all known attorneys who represent Plaintiffs in SNF cases transferred to or filed in this MDL, asking them to take leadership roles in the SNF cases. Doc. 15948 at 2. That communication was followed by further communications with some who expressed interest in taking on a leadership or committee position. No. lawyer has stepped forward to lead the SNF cases. One attorney expressed a willingness to serve on a steering committee, but is not willing to serve as lead counsel. See Id. Plaintiffs' lead counsel encouraged her to attend the hearing set for March 18, 2019, but she did not. Plaintiffs' lead counsel have also identified a few additional attorneys who are willing to serve on a steering committee, but are similarly reluctant to take on a lead counsel role.

         Without Plaintiffs' lawyers who are willing to assume leadership of the SNF cases, those cases cannot be resolved expeditiously, the Court cannot manage the SNF-case docket in this MDL, and Defendants will be prejudiced. The Court will afford the SNF-case attorneys one more opportunity to organize a steering committee, designate lead counsel, confer with defense counsel, and undertake litigation of the SNF cases. See Doc. 15176 at 2-3. If those attorneys do not step forward and assume responsibility for litigating their cases, the Court will dismiss the SNF cases for lack of prosecution and failure to comply with the Court's orders. See Doc. 15948 at 3; Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b); Carey v. King, 856 F.2d 1439, 1440 (9th Cir. 1988) (“In determining whether to dismiss an action for lack of prosecution, the district court is required to weigh several factors: (1) the public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation; (2) the court's need to manage its docket; (3) the risk of prejudice to the defendants; (4) the public policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits and (5) the availability of less drastic sanctions.”) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

         Attorneys in SNF cases shall have until May 1, 2019, to (a) organize into a Plaintiffs' steering committee for SNF cases; (b) designate lead counsel for such cases; (c) confer with defense counsel regarding an appropriate schedule and procedures for preparing the cases for trial, including the five topics identified in the parties' joint status report (Doc. 14870 at 3); and (d) file a memorandum identifying the attorneys recommended for the steering committee and lead counsel, explain why they are qualified and able to litigate the SNF cases, and setting forth the proposed schedule for this litigation. The Court will then schedule a hearing to appoint a steering committee and lead counsel and set a schedule for completing discovery and motion practice in the SNF cases.

         Attorneys with SNF cases are warned that the Court will dismiss those cases for lack of prosecution if they do not comply fully with this order. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b). Existing lead counsel are directed, within seven days of this order, to share this order and the Court's directive with all attorneys who have SNF cases in this MDL.

         3. Dupli ...


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