A day after a bellwether trial was to begin, Fresenius Medical Care announced it had reached a $250 million global settlement with the Plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) lawsuit alleging the company’s dialysis products GranuFlo and NaturaLyte caused life-threatening side effects. If approved by the court, this settlement would resolve more than 11,000 lawsuits that are in the MDL. In order for the settlement to be final, however, 97 percent of the Plaintiffs will have to agree to the terms by July 2016. Frank Woodson, a lawyer in our firm’s Mass Torts Section, had this to say about the global settlement:
This is a good resolution for the people who were injured, or who lost someone they cared about as a result of Fresenius’ failure to warn physicians and patients about the dangers associated with these products. This company had a responsibility to put the care of its patients as its first priority, and obviously it failed to do that.
Fresenius’ GranuFlo and NaturaLyte are administered to patients undergoing dialysis to help balance electrolytes in the blood. Plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation claimed that the products could cause a buildup of bicarbonate in the blood, increasing the risk of an electrical imbalance in the body that could lead to sudden cardiac arrest, a fatal condition in which the heart stops beating. The Plaintiffs alleged that Fresenius was aware of the heart risks with its dialysis concentrates, but withheld this information from the public. Fresenius is the world’s largest provider of dialysis products and services, and generated about $16.7 billion in profits for 2015. The company claims that it doubts the science behind the warnings; however, it agreed to settle the MDL litigation. In 2013, the lawsuits were consolidated in Massachusetts by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The MDL later absorbed suits filed by patients, relatives and the Attorneys General of Louisiana and Mississippi. Last year the states’ cases were remanded to state court by a U.S. district judge. If you need more information on this litigation contact Frank Woodson in our firm’s Mass Torts Section.