The judge overseeing Suboxone tooth decay cases in Ohio federal court denied the defendant’s request to sequence the discovery process and limit case-specific discovery because it could unnecessarily delay the litigation.

Plaintiffs who filed Suboxone tooth decay lawsuits claim Indivior, the drug’s maker, failed to warn the public that the drug could lead to tooth decay, tooth loss and other injuries.

The litigation began in late 2023, and the MDL has since swelled to more than 10,000 claimants after plaintiffs’ attorneys were allowed to file about 10,000 cases in a single day. The judge allowed this because it could take a while to get medical records, and some of these cases have a two-year statute of limitations.

Ultimately, only plaintiffs who took brand name Suboxone will be able to file a case, so some of these cases may be dismissed.

Judge Philip Calabrese’s ruling is a win for these plaintiffs, according to attorney Trent Miracle, a mass torts partner with Flint Cooper. He said what the defense proposed could add years to Suboxone litigation by delaying case-specific discovery.

“Judge Calabrese’s ruling constitutes an important victory for the plaintiffs in this litigation. By refusing to sequence discovery he has ensured the case won’t get bogged down by Indivior defense tactics. As the old maxim goes, ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’ This ruling goes a long way towards ensuring that won’t be the case here,” Miracle said.

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Judge: Sequencing Discovery ‘Will Do Little to Advance the Overall Progress’ In MDL

According to Calabrese’s order, the defendants wanted to focus the discovery process on general causation, which means focusing on studies and evidence linking Suboxone to tooth decay. Only after that process was finished would discovery take on product marketing, promotion and other issues related to the MDL.

Plaintiffs argued it would unnecessarily prolong the MDL, poorly use resources and present other difficulties.

Calabrese ultimately agreed with the plaintiffs and rejected Indivior’s proposal.

“In this MDL, Defendants’ proposal threatens to limit the scientific evidence on general causation to an artificially narrow body of knowledge that would likely interfere with the search for the truth of general causation or render any such determination unreliable or too attenuated from real-world science. Nor does [the] Defendants’ proposal present a workable or efficient sequencing of discovery. It will do little to advance the overall progress of the MDL or the individual cases in it,” Judge Calabrese said in his Opinion and Order.

For now, discovery will commence in the traditional manner and Judge Calabrese will work with the parties on an appropriate schedule.