Additional Delay in Depakote MDL Announced

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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On Friday March 3, 2017, U. S. District Judge Nancy Rosenstengel announced that the start of the first bellwether trial in the Depakote MDL was to be postponed due to the illness of defense expert witness neurologist, Dr. James Willmore. Judge Rosenstengel announced that while maintaining the planned trial date of March 27, 2017 was of the utmost importance to her, she was convinced after a phone call with Dr. Willmore that he is indeed too ill to testify.

Depakote is a popular anticonvulsant drug used to treat both seizures and bipolar disorder. The drug has come under fire from many users who allege that the drug’s makers, Abbot Laboratories, did not properly warn consumers of the serious risk of birth defects if taken during pregnancy. The case centers on the use of Depakote by Plaintiff’s mother during pregnancy, which resulted in Plaintiff being diagnosed with spina bifida at birth.

Trial was originally supposed to commence mid-June 2016; in May 2016, the defense filed a motion to exclude the testimony of Plaintiff’s expert witness, Dr. Olaf Bodamer, on the grounds that it was too speculative. However, the point soon became moot as Bodamer recused himself from the suit soon after the motion was made due to a family emergency in Germany. The case was then denigrated to the bottom of the MDL priority list only to be returned to the top in late 2016 when it was assigned the most recent trial date of March 27, 2017.

No new trial date has been suggested as of yet. It is believed, however, that one will quickly be selected based on Judge Rosenstengel’s previously stated efforts to preserve the March trial date. 

The case is: D.W.K. Jr. and parents Mary and Daniel Kaleta et al. v. Abbott Laboratories Inc., case no.: 3:14-cv-00847, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois

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