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Zicam Class Action Cases Head for Trial



Thirteen cases claiming that Zicam, a recalled cold remedy produced by Matrixx Initiatives, causes loss of smell have been cleared to proceed to trial by the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. The ruling was part of multidistrict litigation involving 252 lawsuits against the drug. On June 15, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers to stop using Zicam after it received more than 130 reports that Zicam caused people to lose their sense of smell. Matrixx Intiatives recalled Zicam approximately one month later. Lawsuits were subsequently filed in several states, but were consolidated in the federal court in Arizona so that issues common to all cases could be efficiently resolved by the same judge.

Most of the 252 Lawsuits Have Been Settled

The federal court in Arizona divided the cases into those claiming damages for the loss of the sense of smell and those claiming other economic damages. The cases for other economic damages were settled in May 2011. On June 3, 2011, the court denied Matrixx's motion for summary judgment on causation, which would have dismissed all of the cases. The court ruled that there were issues of fact as to whether Zicam could cause the loss of the sense of smell, and that the plaintiffs were entitled to have these cases heard by a jury. The court also denied several motions to prevent the plaintiffs' experts from testifying. Within one month, most of the remaining cases for loss of the sense of smell were settled.

Remaining Cases Returned to Original Courts for Trial

What remain now that pretrial motions have been resolved are 13 cases. The federal court in Arizona has basically resolved or ruled upon all of the issues that are common to the cases. It has now remanded, or returned, the remaining 13 cases to the courts where they were originally filed, so that they may be tried to juries. Three of the cases will be tried in Texas federal courts, while two cases each will be tried in California, Utah, and Ohio. The remaining cases will be tried in New Jersey, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Illinois.