Roche Recusal Victory Short-Lived

Last week, we commented on what appeared to be some success for Hoffman-La Roche in its efforts to force the recusal of Judge Carol Higbee from her role presiding over the centralized multicounty litigation involving Accutane.  However, the order issued by New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia — which imposed a stay on the trial court proceedings and appeared to us to suggest that Roche’s application would receive further review on the merits before the Appellate Division — was superceded by two further orders  issued yesterday by the Court.

In those orders, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejected Roche’s challenge to Judge Higbee, noting:

“The pending Accutane multicounty litigation raises many complex, challenging issues.  As in all cases, we expect the highest level of professionalism from counsel and the parties, including their cooperation with one another and the court whenever possible.  We also expect that trial court judges will treat all parties with the utmost respect and evenhandedness while presiding over litigation.  This matter is returned to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with these expectations.”

The Court also lifted the stay that it had imposed last week.

This may be the end of the line for Roche’s challenge.  Going forward, however, it remains to be seen whether the comments from the Court have any effect — real or perceived — on the future handling of this or any other of the various multicounty litigations pending in New Jersey.

 

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