Tillery takes back seat in Bextra class certification hearing

Steve Korris Feb. 22, 2008, 12:15am


Madison County Associate Judge Ralph Mendelsohn granted drug maker Pfizer four hearings in a row, putting off St. Louis attorney Stephen Tillery who tried to squeeze in a class certification hearing ahead of Pfizer.

At a Feb. 15 hearing Mendelsohn postponed Tillery's hearing from March 20 to April 22, and he added two big "ifs."

He said he would hear the motion if he denies a motion from Pfizer for transfer to Cook County, and if he subsequently denies Pfizer's motion to dismiss.

He set the transfer motion March 20 and the motion to dismiss, if necessary, April 4.

Mendelsohn's scheduling order also directed Pfizer to file a motion to compel, and he set a Feb. 29 hearing on that.

Tillery pursues a class claim over harmful effects of painkiller Bextra, on behalf of Ricky Lott, Gerald Sumner, Sandy Becker and Mike Baldwin.

The Feb. 15 hearing represented the first in Pfizer's string of strategic successes.

Tillery started the cycle Dec. 5, filing a 467 page class certification motion.

He asked for a hearing but Pfizer attorney Robert Shultz of Edwardsville filed a "motion to sequence hearings" Jan. 18.

Shultz urged Mendelsohn to hear Pfizer's pending motions for transfer and dismissal before taking up class certification.

On Jan. 23, Mendelsohn set a March 20 hearing for Tillery.

On Jan. 24, Mendelsohn set a Feb. 15 hearing for Shultz.

The hearing ran in Pfizer's favor and left Tillery with a seven day deadline to respond to the transfer motion.

Last year, Mendelsohn entered a protective order for Pfizer, over Tillery's objection, covering confidential patient records.

According to Shultz, Pfizer has given Tillery more than 36 million pages of electronic and paper documents.

Tillery's complaint includes claims over painkiller Celebrex, but his class certification motion covers only Bextra.

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