Leadership Chosen for Ozempic, Wegovy MDL

by | May 7, 2024

U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has selected eight plaintiffs’ lawyers to the plaintiffs’ committee to lead the multidistrict litigation involving diabetes and weight loss drugs Ozempic, Wegovy, Rybelsus, Trulicity and Mounjaro, part of a class of medications known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, or GLP-1 RAs.

Judge Pratter also appointed two additional attorneys to serve as liaison counsel but in an unusual move did not appoint lead counsel, instead allowing the designated attorneys to frame the leadership structure for the litigation, choose up to 17 additional counsel and name counsel to subsidiary committees.

The MDL was formed to consolidate pretrial proceedings for lawsuits filed by plaintiffs claiming that drug manufacturers Novo Nordisk A/S and Eli Lilly & Co. failed to warn patients of the risks of dangerous side effects for those who take the drug, including ileus, intestinal obstruction, gastroparesis, and other gastric injuries.

Counsel named to the leadership committee are:

  • Sara Couch, Motley Rice, Charleston, SC.
  • Mike Daly, Pogust Goodhead, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Stacy Hauer, Johnson Becker, St. Paul, MN.
  • Paul Pennock, ,Morgan & Morgan, New York, NY.
  • Cameron Stephenson, Levin, Papantonio, Rafferty, Proctor Buchanan, O’Brien, Barr & Mougey, Pensacola, FL.
  • Marcus Susen,, Susen Law Group, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
  • Alex Walsh, Alex Walsh Law, Washington, D.C.
  • Diandra Debrosse Zimmermann, DiCello Levitt, Birmingham, AL.

Plaintiffs’ liaison counsel will be

  • Roberta Liebenberg, Fine, Kaplan & Black, Philadelphia, PA
  • Nina Spizer, Dilworth Paxson, Philadelphia, PA

Plaintiffs had originally proposed a slate of 32 attorneys bit the judge noted she had concerns with the size of the group, opting to select eight leadership team members and authorizing that group to select the remaining members.

Attorney Sarah Foster of Schlesinger Law Offices in Fort Lauderdale, FL raised objections to the process, claiming that she and other attorneys were effectively excluded from consideration and that the designation process was neither open nor transparent. Foster was, however, named in the judge’s order as mentee to named liaison counsel Roberta Liebenberg. 

The cases had been consolidated in early February; there are currently 74 cases filed in the MDL pending in Philadelphia although thousands of cases involving the drugs are expected to be filed, given the increasing popularity of the drugs and their widespread promotion.

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