Herndon sets Yaz lawyers straight on seeking relief outside his jurisdiction

Steve Korris Oct. 21, 2010, 2:11am



EAST ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge David Herndon simmered when he found out a lawyer asked a court official in Philadelphia to enforce one of his orders.

In a telephone conference on Oct. 15, he laid down the law to lawyers suing drug maker Bayer over oral contraceptives Yaz and Yasmin.

"The court advises counsel that it is tired about hearing that members of the plaintiff steering committee may be seeking relief elsewhere," he wrote after the conversation.

"The court may ask for names if plaintiff steering committee members continue to seek relief elsewhere," he wrote.

"Counsel should come here for this," he wrote.

Herndon presides over Yaz and Yasmin suits from federal courts around the nation by appointment of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi District Litigation.

Plaintiffs allege they suffered heart attacks, strokes, embolisms and gall bladder injuries.

Herndon signed a protective order earlier this year allowing Bayer to redact certain information before delivering documents to plaintiffs.

In September, plaintiffs protested that Bayer redacted so much information that they couldn't make use of the documents.

They moved to modify the order to limit redactions, and Herndon granted the motion.

That meant Bayer had to review millions of pages it had already reviewed.

At a conference on Oct. 12, plaintiff lawyer Michael Burg of Englewood, Colo., complained about the pace of Bayer's production.

Bayer lawyer Adam Hoeflich of Chicago told Herndon that Bayer would produce documents by the end of the following week.

Herndon didn't express doubts about Bayer's sincerity, but someone doubted it.

A day or two later, counsel for Bayer told Herndon a lawyer from a steering committee firm sent a letter to the special master for Yaz and Yasmin suits in Philadelphia.

Counsel for Bayer reported that the letter asked for an order requiring production of documents the following week.

Herndon summoned both sides for a phone conversation that lasted 45 minutes.

According to Herndon's summary, lead plaintiff lawyer Roger Denton of Webster Groves, Mo., said he didn't try to get anyone to enforce the order.

Herndon told Hoeflich to produce documents on Oct. 22, as Hoeflich said he would.

While Bayer produces millions of pages for the second time, some plaintiffs still haven't filled out basic fact sheets supporting their claims.

About 80 plaintiffs dismissed their claims rather than fill out fact sheets.

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