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Poligrip, Fixodent Lawsuits Consolidated

Jun 15, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Denture cream lawsuits against the makers of Poligrip and Fixodent have been consolidated in a Multidristrict Litigation, and transferred to the Southern District of Florida.  Plaintiffs in these  lawsuits all allege that zinc in Poligrip and Fixodent caused them to suffer a variety of neurological problems.

As we've been reporting for some time, evidence supporting the link between zinc-containing denture creams and neurological problems has been building. For instance, a 2008 study published in the journal Neurology found that four neuropathy patients who had used excessive amounts of denture cream had extremely high levels of zinc in their blood. Their use of denture cream was the only thing the patients had in common, besides their neuropathy. The researchers from the University of Texas who conducted the study concluded that the use of denture cream was the only “plausible explanation” for the patients’ high zinc levels and copper deficiencies.

Symptoms of zinc denture cream poisoning include:

• numbness or tingling in the feet, legs, hands, and/or arms;
• a reduction in strength or ability to move legs or feet, or arms and hands;
• unexplained pain in the extremities;
• a tendency to stumble or fall down; instability and lack of balance;
• change or decrease in walking stride;
• abnormal blood pressure and heart rate;
• reduced ability to perspire;
• constipation and/or bladder dysfunction;
• sexual dysfunction.

So far, GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Poligrip, has been named  in 10 denture cream zinc poisoning lawsuits. Proctor & Gamble, the maker of Fixodent, has been named in two. But it is likely that many more will be filed in the coming months.  Earlier this month, we reported that one law firm, Morgan & Morgan, had told the National Law Journal that it was in the process of evaluating about 3,000 such cases and is nearly ready to file about 40 others. It has partnered with two other firms, including New York-based Parker Waichman LLP, that together also have about 75 denture cream lawsuits ready to go.

On May 28, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Louisville, Kentucky held hearings about possibly consolidating all federal lawsuits against GlaxoSmithKline and Proctor & Gamble in a single jurisdiction.   In a transfer order issued last week, the Panel  ruled that centralization of the cases in an MDL  was  appropriate due to the common questions of fact involved in the various cases.  As a result, all Poligrip and Fixodent lawsuits currently pending in federal court, as well any new cases filed, will be transferred to District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in the Southern District of Florida.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation of the United States Courts was created in 1968. Since then, it has consolidated hundreds of thousands of lawsuits that involved high numbers of plaintiffs, including litigation over asbestos, breast implants and other matters. A multidistrict litigation (MDL) allows all cases to be coordinated under one judge for pretrial litigation to avoid duplicative discovery, inconsistent rulings and to conserve the resources of the parties, witnesses and the court. When lawsuits are consolidated as an MDL each retains its own identity. If the MDL process does not resolve the cases, they are transferred back to the court where they originated for trial.

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