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Ark. MDL judge sends Texas HRT plaintiffs to home venues

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Apr 28, 2010

SHERMAN-After her case was rejected by an Arkansas judge, a woman claiming her hormone replacement drugs caused her breast cancer has filed a new lawsuit in Texas.

After taking replacement hormones for five years and developing cancer, Bessie Baker of Roxton, Texas, is seeking $95,000 in medical damages from drug maker Wyeth LLC.

Baker and eight other Texas plaintiffs were originally part of a multi-plaintiff lawsuit filed in a federal court in Minnesota and then transferred to the Prempro MDL in the Eastern District of Arkansas.

However, on March 31, District Judge William R. Wilson Jr. ruled that the multi-plaintiff complaints violated his orders as well as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

The order reads "all attorneys filing related cases in the future should avoid filing complaints joining unrelated individuals as parties-plaintiff . . . ."

Therefore, Wilson ordered every plaintiff dropped from that case and explained that they had 30 days to file new, individual complaints in a proper venue, either where the plaintiff resides or where the injury occurred. If the plaintiffs did not file new civil actions within the 30 day period, their allegations would be considered dismissed without prejudice.

Baker resides in Lamar County and filed her new suit in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas on April 23.

At the time of the original complaint, Baker was a 55-year-old woman who began taking Premarin in 1998 for menopause symptoms. She continued to take the drugs until January 2003, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she alleges was caused by ingesting Wyeth's hormone therapy drugs.

First manufactured in 1942, Premarin was marketed to women and their physicians to replace the loss of natural estrogen in menopausal women.

The original plaintiffs allege that Wyeth convinced doctors and patients that menopause is "not simply a natural process of aging," but a "disease" in need of drug treatment. They claim that hormone therapy poses substantial health risks with little or no corresponding benefit, and that Wyeth intentionally and knowingly marketed and encouraged the use of their hormone therapy drugs.

In the original lawsuit, Baker and the other plaintiffs were represented by Rhett McSweeney of McSweeney & Fay in Minneapolis, Minn., and Mark Taylor and Patrick W. Powers of Cash Klemchuck Powers Taylor LLP in Dallas.

Edward F. Fox of Bassford Remele in Minneapolis, Minn., was lead attorney for Wyeth.

Baker filed the new Texas suit on her own behalf.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell is assigned to the case.

Case No 4:10cv00208

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