The U.S. District Judge presiding over all 3M earplug lawsuits has ordered the parties to participate in a multi-day mediation to discuss settling the litigation, after a bankruptcy judge cleared the way for cases to proceed against 3M Company, despite its Aearo Technologies subsidiary's recent bankruptcy filing.
Nearly 250,000 claims have been filed against 3M Company and its Aearo Technologies branch by US military veterans, each alleging that its Combat Arms earplugs were defectively built and did not offer proper ear protection. Despite being aware of the issues, lawsuits say that 3M continued to sell the earplugs to the United States military, which issued them as standard issue equipment to all service members between 2004 and 2015.
Over the last year, 3M Company has been forced to pay millions of dollars in damages in a series of early trial dates conducted to assist the parties judge how jurors would respond to particular facts and testimony that will be repeated throughout the case. However, with an increasing number of new claims being filed by former military members, estimates predict that 3M Company may be responsible for tens of billions of dollars in damages if each individual case is heard by a jury.
Claims filed throughout the federal court system have been centralised as part of a multi-district lawsuit (MDL) before a U.S. District Judge in the Northern District of Florida, who has been presiding over coordinated discovery and preparing several big "waves" of claims for trial next year.
Prior to "flooding" U.S. District Courts around the country with individual cases that need a jury trial, the jury scheduled a series of 3M earplug settlement meetings this summer, directing the parties to engage in a serious and good faith attempt to resolve the claims. Those efforts, however, were derailed a few days later when 3M's Aearo Technologies business declared bankruptcy.
A Missouri state court jury reached a defense judgement for Bayer-owned agrochemical giant Monsanto in the first Roundup herbicide trial to be held in St. Louis County, near the company's old US headquarters.
The judgement was delivered on the same day that the jury heard final arguments in the trial, which began on August 3. This is Monsanto's sixth trial victory in lawsuits concerning accusations that glyphosate, a chemical used in Roundup, causes cancer. All three Roundup cases have resulted in judgements in favour of the plaintiffs.
Aside from being the first Roundup trial in the St. Louis region, it was also the first time a jury heard claims from three plaintiffs in a Roundup lawsuit at the same time. The plaintiffs, a lady and two men in their 60s and 70s, allege they were exposed to glyphosate while spraying weeds in their yards.
Their lawyers argued that Monsanto had internal knowledge of glyphosate's alleged carcinogenic properties, but withheld that information from the public in order to protect sales of a popular brand. Monsanto successfully countered that scientific studies allegedly linking glyphosate exposure to cancer are fundamentally flawed and that numerous other studies found the chemical to be safe.
After the judgement was delivered, Monsanto released a statement expressing sorrow for the plaintiffs' illnesses, but reaffirming the arguments offered to the jury that Roundup did not cause their cancer.
According to the corporation, the jury's findings are consistent with professional regulators' judgments globally, as well as the overwhelming data from four decades of scientific research establishing that Roundup can be used safely and is not carcinogenic.
According to the plaintiffs' counsel, the trial revealed a history by Monsanto over several decades of discounting and minimizing recognized linkages between Roundup and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He went on to say that the struggle will go on for the many thousands of individuals who have suffered as a result of this company's failure to warn.
While Monsanto has resolved the majority of the hundreds of Roundup-related claims brought across the United States, the firm still faces multiple forthcoming trials regarding glyphosate exposure.
Another trial in Florida state court is set to begin in late September, and another in late October in the City of St. Louis, which is typically seen as a more favourable venue for plaintiffs than St. Louis County. Several further trials are planned for the St. Louis region in 2023.
In that lawsuit, the Pittsburgh-based producer of durable medical equipment was accused of paying bribes to product vendors. According to the DOJ, Respironics made illegal payments to its suppliers in exchange for them filing claims for ventilators, oxygen concentrators, CPAP and BiPAP machines, and other respiratory devices with government reimbursement programmes such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the military-focused Tricare.
The manufacturer reportedly also provided its suppliers with unfettered access to physician prescribing data, which might enable them target their marketing efforts to individual physicians.
Respironics agreed to pay the federal government $22.62 million in settlement, plus an additional $2.13 million to specific states whose Medicaid programmes were impacted by the alleged kickback scheme. The former Respironics employee who filed a whistleblower complaint with the DOJ will get approximately $4.3 million of the government's portion.
In addition, the Philips subsidiary signed a five-year arrangement with the US Department of Health and Human Services. Under those circumstances, it would be forced to perform frequent evaluations of its sales force and referral relationships, and that compliance programme will be reviewed by an independent monitor chosen by the HHS inspector general's office.
According to an emailed statement provided by Philips to its Respironics division's business leader, settling this claim will allow the manufacturer to put this matter behind and retain the focus on the clients and the patients. The company has a strong compliance policy in place, and will work with the appropriate authorities to meet the conditions of the settlement. The customers and the patients should be unaffected by this arrangement.
The other agreement was made public earlier this week. It is about Philips' North American business, which is domiciled in Massachusetts and has agreed to pay the DOJ $4.2 million.
While officials have collected "rainbow fentanyl" in the Pacific Northwest and other areas of the country, the substance has yet to be discovered in Washington, according to authorities, despite the ongoing nationwide opioid crisis.
But it's only a matter of time before the colourful pills show up here, if they haven't already, given that law enforcement officials have seized them in 18 states, including Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho, according to the acting special agent in charge of the US Drug Enforcement Administration's Seattle division.
Fentanyl is available in a variety of colours as tablets, powders, chunks, or blocks that resemble street chalk. Officials suspect the colourful narcotic, which is every bit as lethal as the fentanyl found in blue tablets here, is designed to appeal to youngsters.
The Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels have been linked to the multicolored fentanyl. Fentanyl is used to increase the addictive component in many drugs since it is 50% more addictive than heroin and 100 times more addictive than morphine. Cartels made a calculated decision to introduce the colorful drug, knowing the pills will increase demand as they look for ways to market drugs to different groups of people.
In Washington, fatal overdoses from synthetic opioids like fentanyl more than quadrupled from the previous year in 2020. State health officials recorded 337 synthetic opioid-related fatalities in 2019, 672 in 2020, and 1,214 in 2021.
According to an epidemiologist and professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, the stigma and misunderstandings surrounding substance use disorders have led to the opioid epidemic, which has resulted in an increase in deadly overdoses worldwide. Economic deprivation and societal circumstances, he added, have also played significant roles.
People use drugs as an escape, he says, noting that children aren't given resources to deal with pain or stress in a healthy way, and society has normalized alcohol and smoking as ways to cope.
According to the epidemiologist, the altered brain chemistry of people with substance use disorders leads to compulsive drug usage withdrawals and psychological alterations such as cravings.
He even stated that because fentanyl is so inexpensive and short-acting, users quickly acquire a tolerance and increase their usage, increasing the dangers of addiction and overdose. While rainbow fentanyl has not yet been identified in Washington, communities should insist that their leaders provide vital assistance and take a humanitarian approach to aid people with substance use disorders.
Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $40.5 million to resolve New Hampshire's allegations over the pharmaceutical company's participation in the country's opioid epidemic, postponing a trial that was supposed to begin next week.
The settlement was announced on Thursday, and it addressed a case filed against Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals company in 2018. The state of New Hampshire accused the company of aggressively selling opioids to doctors and patients, misrepresenting their addictive tendencies when taken to treat chronic pain, and preying on vulnerable populations such as the elderly.
According to the Governor of New Hampshire, the resolution is a great step forward in ensuring that such destructive economic practices do not occur again.
After paying legal expenses, New Hampshire will put $31.5 million into opioid abatement, and Johnson & Johnson will be barred from selling or advertising opioids in the state. The trial was set for September 7 in Merrimack County Superior Court.
Johnson & Johnson issued a statement in which it denied any wrongdoing and described its marketing and promotion of prescription opioids as reasonable and prudent.
The company also stated that it will defend itself in other pending opioid cases. New Hampshire was one of a few states that did not join Johnson & Johnson's part of a $26 billion countrywide opioid settlement with the corporation and the three major U.S. drug distributors in February, expecting to recoup more by suing on its own.
Johnson & Johnson expects to be compensated $1.5 million as New Hampshire did not join in the settlement. Meanwhile, the company claimed it is still facing an opioid lawsuit from Washington state, and that a trial set for this month has been postponed indefinitely.
More than 500,000 individuals have died from opioid overdoses in the United States over the last two decades, according to federal figures, including a record 75,673 in the fiscal year ending April 2021.