GranuFlo is an alkaline product produced by a company called Fresenius. The product is administered to dialysis patients to neutralize acids that build up as a result of dialysis treatment. Unfortunately, when GranuFlo is administered, there is a substance in the product that converts to bicarbonates within the body. Too many bicarbonates can cause cardiac problems and many patients who were taking GranuFlo found themselves with a bicarbonate overdose.
Now, Fresenius is being sued by those injured as a result of the use of GranuFlo. There were many people who experienced a similar injury due to the widespread use of GranuFlo across the United States, so there are actually many lawsuits pending against the company. On December 12, 2012, two plaintiffs involved in a lawsuit against GranuFlo moved to have a multi-district litigation established. Our Boston injury attorneys want potential GranuFlo victims to understand what an MDL is and how it impacts the case.
Multi-District Litigation in the GranuFlo Case
Fresenius is one of the largest providers of dialysis and one of the largest suppliers of dialysis products in the United States. They provide dialysis products for approximately 1/3 of the 400,000 dialysis patients in the U.S. In other words, many, many people use their products.
Unfortunately, GranuFlo was a dangerous product that they released. They did not warn doctors that it converted to bicarbonate in larger amounts in the body, and care providers thus did not account for this when administering GranuFlo. Patients with an excess of bicarbonates began to suffer heart attacks as a result. In fact, by November of 2011, more than 900 people had experienced a sudden cardiac event just in the clinics manned by Fresenius. With hundreds of deaths in their own dialysis clinics, Fresenius chose not to warn the public but instead to send out an internal memo only. This put countless more lives at stake.
Although the FDA has since issued a Class I Recall, the fact remains that this recall is too late for many who lost their lives in a cardiac event caused by GranuFlo and Fresenius. Those who lost their lives or who were injured all have the right to sue, and since there are so many of them across the U.S., multiple lawsuits have been filed to take action for the dialysis injuries.
It does not make sense to argue each and every one of these multiple cases separately when there are so many common issues to decide. This is why the motion to establish a multi-district litigation was filed and why the motion is so important. If the MDL is established, then the cases arising from GranuFlo will be consolidated in one court. Currently, the plaintiffs who requested the MDL on December 12 have asked that the MDL be established within Massachusetts.
An MDL and the consolidation of cases that it includes can make it easier and quicker for injured victims to get justice. Certain issues of fact, such as whether Fresenius is legally responsible for the injuries, can be established in one court rather than in hundreds of courts across the U.S.
It is important, however, to realize that an MDL is not necessarily the same as a class action. Class actions involve many plaintiffs who all suffered a similar or the same wrong at someone else's hands. Multi-district litigation, on the other hand, is appropriate in cases where there is a widespread pattern (such as GranuFlo injuring people) but where the plaintiffs have different injuries or different sets of circumstance. In other words, in a multi-district litigation, not every plaintiff will necessarily get the same thing.
If the MDL is granted in the Fresenius case, however, it can streamline the process of getting justice as long as clients hurt by GranuFlo have attorneys to protect their rights and to stand up for them.