What Happened In The MassTorts World Last Week? 2018-Jul-02

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

The plaintiffs and defendants involved in the Stockert 3T Heater Cooler System Litigation submitted a case management plan on June 19, 2018, for setting parameters for case-specific and generic discovery over the next 120 days.

The order states that the Plaintiff Fact Sheet (PFS) must be served 30 days after the Court approves it, and completed Defendant Fact sheet must be served 60 days after court's approval. Parties are supposed to agree on the contents of the respective fact sheets by the end of this month. As per the order, October 5, 2018, is the day when the plaintiffs can conduct depositions of defendant personnel, initiate the discovery of two hospitals, and begin written discovery and possible depositions of federal regulators, researchers, and laboratories that may affect the litigation.

Product liability lawsuits filed against the Stockert 3T Heater-Cooler System allege that the system contaminated the operating room air causing the development of nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) infections in the patient being operated. Stockert 3T lawsuits were centralized on Feb 1, 2018, for coordinated pretrial proceedings in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, before Judge John E. Jones III.


Friday, Jun 29, 2018

U.S. District Judge Aaron Polster, overseeing the opioid litigation, denied the request put forth by attorneys to form a separate MDL track for babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome due to their mother’s opioid addiction. The appeal was put forth in order to address the distinct medical costs of the patients who took the opioid medication.

Opioid distributors played an integral role in overdose deaths by not keeping track of oversupply, and failure to identify suspicious orders and report them to authorities.

More than 400 opioid-related lawsuits are centralized as a part of multidistrict litigation, MDL No 2804 (In Re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation) in the Northern District of Ohio before U.S. District Judge Dan A. Polster.


Friday, Jun 29, 2018

A Denver federal jury awarded $383.5 million to the families of three patients who died of cardiac arrest after treatment at DaVita Dialysis Center. The jury granted each of the three parties $125 million in punitive damages and compensatory damages ranging from $1.5 million to $5 million.

The verdict was announced against the company over wrongful death due to the use of GranuFLo for treatment which caused toxic pH imbalances and alkalosis. The law firm representing the plaintiffs asserted that the dialysis provider was aware of the health risk associated with their product GranuFLo. DaVita officials plan to file a motion to overturn the verdict. In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a Class 1 recall of GranuFlo and wrongful deaths cases were filed against DaVita in the following year alleging negligence and fraud. Granuflo lawsuits were centralized in the District of Massachusetts as multidistrict litigation in 2013 (MDL No. 2428; In Re: Fresenius GranuFlo/NaturaLyte Dialysate Litigation) before Judge Douglas P. Woodlock.


Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

Chief Justice Leo E. Strine Jr. reversed the dismissal verdict of a "take-home" asbestos case involving the death of a worker’s spouse due to regular laundering of contaminated clothing and died of lung cancer in 2015.

Elizabeth Ramsey sued Georgia Southern University Advanced Development Center (Herty) alleging that Dorothy Ramsey was exposed to the asbestos-laden clothing of her husband Robert Ramsey, who worked at Haveg Industrial Plant. The facility manufactured two asbestos-containing products, Haveg and Chemtite.

Ramsey indicated Delaware Supreme Court that there is proof that Herty was aware of the dangers of asbestos in the products and failed to provide safety warnings to avert unfavorable events. The claim stated that selling of asbestos products is misfeasance and does not require a special relationship between the parties for providing warnings to protect household members from exposure.


Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

Bayer and Johnson & Johnson are seeking interlocutory appeal over Xarelto lawsuits filed against them, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to dispose of claims in the litigation, avoiding the need for further trials. An earlier motion filed by the defendants for federal preemption was rejected by Judge Fallon. A status conference to hear oral arguments regarding certifying the appeal was held on June 27.

As per the motion filed by Bayer and J&J on June 4, the enormous time required to resolve almost 1,200 Xarelto claims could be reduced by passing a pre-emption law in their favor. The defendants asserted that this would save the effort of the judicial system as well as the parties involved in the litigation. In the response filed on June 14, the plaintiffs debated that the federal preemption issue had already been concluded by the court using well-defined existing law and that granting the interlocutory appeal would unnecessarily delay the litigation.

Xarelto bellwether trials conducted in 2017, concluded with jury favoring the defendants in all three trials. Lawsuits claiming uncontrolled bleeding due to the blood thinner drug are consolidated as part of multidistrict litigation (MDL No.2592; In Re: Xarelto (Rivaroxaban) Products Liability Litigation) presided over by Judge Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana.


Wednesday, Jun 27, 2018

U.S. District Judge William Duffey who overlooked Wright Medical Technology Inc.'s defective hip implants MDL, released an order on June 22, to close about 200 pending cases. These cases were resolved in October 2017 and were not a part of the 2016 master settlement agreement. The six-year-long MDL battle has finally come to an end as all eligible lawsuits against the manufacturer filed in several state courts are resolved. Lawsuits filed against Wright metal-on-metal hip implant claimed adverse events of device dislocation, severe pain and metal toxicity in the blood due to the faulty design involving Conserve, Dynasty and Lineage.

The Wright Conserve multidistrict Litigation (MDL No. 2329) was created in February 2012, in the Northern District of Georgia before Judge William S. Duffey. In May 2012, a Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4710 (JCCP) petition was approved before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jane Johnson, consolidating California state-court cases involving Wright Medical hip replacement and revision matters, including Wright Medical’s Conserve, Lineage, and Dynasty hip implants.

Stryker Corporation faces similar allegations over their Stryker Hip implant for causing internal complications due to the faulty device. Stryker Hip Replacement lawsuits are centralized before U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani under MDL No. 2768 – in Re: Stryker LFIT V40 Femoral Head Products Liability Litigation.


Tuesday, Jun 26, 2018

As per the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey court order released on June 20, 2018, the first bellwether trial for the kidney injury lawsuits against Nexium and other PPI manufacturers will convene on September 21, 2020.

Over 4,500 lawsuits are federally-filed against PPI manufacturers over claims that the heartburn drugs Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix, and Dexilant cause kidney complications. Plaintiffs accuse the drug makers of failing to provide adequate warnings to doctors and patients about the potential risks of the drugs. Lawsuits claim adverse events of renal malfunctions including Acute interstitial nephritis, Acute kidney injury, Chronic kidney disease, and Kidney failure. PPI lawsuits were centralized as part of the multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2789; In Re: Proton-Pump Inhibitor Products Liability Litigation [No. II]) overlooked by Judge Claire C. Cecchi in the District of New Jersey.


Tuesday, Jun 26, 2018

U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers ordered parties involved in the Abilify gambling litigation to reach on a common agreement regarding the selection of trial cases by the end of this year, for proceeding with the second bellwether trial.

In an order issued on Friday, Judge Rodgers indicated that a group of 100 cases must be picked randomly by July 6 for the second trial pool. The court will choose 40 cases from that pool which the plaintiffs have to agree to be tried in the multidistrict litigation (MDL). By December 21, 2018, the parties can strike off additional 10 cases each, thus reducing the pool count to 20. These cases will undergo fact-discovery and depositions before the parties finalize 10 crucial cases for bellwether trial. Jude Rodgers further stated that “The parties will meet and confer on the timing and scope of expert discovery for those 10 cases.”

If any cases need to be removed from the final trial pool, the Court will randomly replace it with the discarded cases from the second discovery pool. By September 28, 2018, the plaintiffs are required to submit a detailed Plaintiff Fact Sheet (PFS) along with authorizations for the release of medical, financial and gambling records. The outcome of these bellwethers trials will help gauge how the jury may respond to other lawsuits in the litigation.

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals have more than 1,100 lawsuits in the federal court over failure to warn about Abilify gambling risk. Abilify lawsuits were centralized in October 2016, as a part of MDL No. 2734 (In Re: Abilify Compulsive Behavior Products Liability Litigation) before Judge M. Casey Rodgers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.


Monday, Jun 25, 2018

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Paula Patrick issued an opinion on Wednesday to Pennsylvania Superior Court to uphold the $77 million Risperdal verdict stating that it was within the jury's discretion.

The verdict was announced by a Philadelphia jury in July 2016 in favor of Andrew Yount, a Tennessee teen blaming Risperdal for the alleged breast growth. The reward amount was the largest against Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit over gynecomastia allegations in Philadelphia. The defendant appealed to the Superior Court asserting that there was inadequate evidence produced and the jury verdict amount was excessive.

So far, the $77 million is the highest recorded amount for a Risperdal lawsuit among a group of other similar cases. The second largest being $2.5 million, which a jury handed up in February 2015 to Austin Pledger.

Risperdal is prescribed to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability associated with autism disorder. However, the drug maker faces more than 6,000 lawsuits over failure to warn about its link to gynecomastia. Janssen ignored several FDA warnings regarding the false marketing of the product as safer than other antipsychotics drugs. Two coordinated actions have been filed for Risperdal cases: one in Los Angeles Superior Court (Risperdal and Invega Product Liability Cases, JCCP 4775) and the other in Philadelphia (In re: Risperdal Litigation, March 2010 Term, Case No. 100300296).


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