What Happened In The MassTorts World Last Week? 2018-Jun-04

Friday, Jun 1, 2018

Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman set May 28, 2019, as the date for initiating the trial for the opioid litigation against the Opioid Big Pharma industry and its affiliates in Oklahoma.

The lawsuits filed in June 2017 by various states blamed opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Allergan, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals and several others for false marketing tactics which led to the opioid epidemic. Other than Oklahoma, several states like Ohio, Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington have filed lawsuits previously. The distributors played an integral role in opioid overdose deaths by not keeping track of oversupply, and failure to identify suspicious orders and report them to authorities. Attorney General Mike Hunter assured that Judge Balkman's move will help resolve the plight of many opioid victims throughout the nation.

Opioid overdoses corresponded to 66% of all drug overdose deaths in 2016. 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. Recently, attorneys undertaking opioid litigation for babies born with birth defects due to opioid use by their mothers, requested a separate legal track within the MDL to address their medical expense concerns before Judge Polster.

Friday, Jun 1, 2018

The two-week trial for 3M Bair Hugger System ended in favor of the defendant as the Minneapolis federal jury announced on May 30 that the plaintiff failed to provide adequate evidence to affirm the Bair Hugger System caused the surgical site infection. This was the first bellwether trial in a series of lawsuits lined up against the air warming blanket maker.

The plaintiff Louis Gareis from South Carolina suffered a deep joint infection in 2010 after he underwent a total right knee replacement surgery during which the 3M Bair Hugger warming blanket was used. In the allegation, Gareis states that the defective design of the warming blanket was the reason for him to undergo the antibiotic treatments, intravenous injections, and a revision surgery for the removal of his knee implant. A second 3M Bair Hugger System trial is expected to be trial ready by December 2018, involving claims by Kurtis Skarr and his wife, Debbie, of Idaho.

More than 4,467 hip and knee infection lawsuits are filed against the Bair Hugger warming blanket maker. Similar cases are consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the District of Minnesota before U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Victor Young, an Ohio man filed a product liability case against Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, as he suffered coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure due to the alleged use of diabetes drug Onglyza. Young had been consuming Onglyza and Kombiglyze XR for several years to treat diabetes. In the complaint filed, Young stated Onglyza makers purposely hid critical information about saxagliptin in the drug, which caused him serious and permanent heart injuries.

FDA proposed to add new warning label for Onglyza in 2016, but even as clinical trials indicated potential dangers of Onglyza, the manufacturers released it into the market.

This lawsuit joins a growing number of similar lawsuits filed by individuals nationwide, who developed heart failure or other health risks due to the inadequate warnings. Onglyza lawsuits are consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, MDL Docket No. 2809, under District Judge Karen K. Caldwell, for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Ilene Brick, a 94-year old mesothelioma victim succumbed to death due to the exposure to asbestos used in Johnson & Johnson Talcum powder. On May 29, during the first day of the trial for this case, in  California, her attorney Stuart Purdy alleged that the talcum manufacturer is liable for her death. However, the company countered the statement stating smoking asbestos-laden cigarettes led to her mesothelioma.

Last month, a banker with the same diagnosis was awarded $117 million in punitive and compensatory damages by a New Jersey jury. Over 6,600 lawsuits are filed nationwide by women who claim they developed ovarian cancer after using J&J's Talcum Powder for feminine hygiene purpose.

Similar allegations are filed against J&J in state courts in California, New Jersey, and Delaware and consolidated for pre-trial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey MDL No. 2738 (In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation), presided over by Hon. Freda L. Wolfson, U.S.D.J./ Hon. Lois H. Goodman, U.S.M.J.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Ethicon Inc. had requested a Pennsylvania State Court Judge Arnold New to exclude 120 Transvaginal Mesh (TVM) lawsuits from Mass tort proceedings, stating that the venue is improper since the plaintiffs do not belong to Pennsylvania.

The Supreme Court's recent decision which allows plaintiffs to file a lawsuit in the jurisdiction where the defendant is headquartered or where the injury has allegedly occurred was the reason for Ethicon to make this move. However, in an order dated May 18, the Judge denied the plea as an “integral portion” of Ethicon Pelvic mesh device was manufactured by Secant Medical Inc., a Pennsylvania-based manufacturer. 

Judge Arnold further clarified,  “since a portion of the manufacturing process of the Gynemesh/Gynemesh PS, Prolene, Prolift, Prosima, TVT, TVT-Exact, TVT-Obturator and TVT-Secur Pelvic mesh medical devices occurs in Pennsylvania, this court’s exercise of specific personal jurisdiction comports with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”

Monday, May 28, 2018

A South Carolina jury failed to arrive at a unanimous decision whether Johnson & Johnson was responsible for the death of the 30-year old attorney, whose family claimed she suffered from mesothelioma due to the exposure to J&J's talcum powder containing asbestos traces.

Christopher Swett, a lawyer for the family of Boyd-Bostic, insists that the daily use of baby powder led to Bertila's death and stated they will retry the case soon. The other defendants, in this case, were the U.S. unit of talc supplier Imerys SA, and a local unit of drugstore chain Rite Aid.

J&J is facing around 9,000 cases over claims that its talcum use led to the diagnosis of ovarian cancer in women due to traces of asbestos present as an ingredient in the baby powder when used for feminine hygiene purpose.

Similar allegations are filed against J&J in state courts in California, New Jersey, and Delaware and consolidated for pre-trial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey MDL No. 2738 (In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation), presided over by Hon. Freda L. Wolfson, U.S.D.J./ Hon. Lois H. Goodman, U.S.M.J.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Following a  three-week-long trial, a Houston firefighter, Jeff Pavlock, was awarded more than $1.2 million by a Texas jury for the lawsuit filed against Cook Medical LLC involving an IVC filter.

The plaintiff was implanted with Cook Celect IVC filter in March 2015 to avert blood clots from reaching his heart, but the filter tilted and pierced into his tissues causing an internal injury, requiring a revision surgery. The allegations include failure to warn the performing surgeon about the possible adverse effects of the defectively designed filter.

Cynthia Kretz, vice president and general counsel for Cook Medical and Cook Group, expressed her disappointment saying, “we are disappointed in this outcome and do not believe this verdict is supported by the facts or the law. This one case does not change our position on continually defending this important, life-saving technology.” Cook officials stated that they plan to appeal the court's decision on the allegations laid on them over its IVC filter.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto was ordered by a Missouri Federal Court to pay $21.5 million as the settlement amount to a class of consumers who filed a lawsuit against its weed killer Roundup. The verdict was given out by U.S District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig, who appreciated the consumers' counsel for bringing “a case with little precedent" to such a strong conclusion.

The manufacturer is blamed for failing to warn people about the side-effects of Roundup through the product label warnings and is facing allegations of purposely concealing the risk of developing Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma(NHL) when exposed to the weed killer.

More than 2,200 lawsuits are pending in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, which are consolidated as a multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2741 in Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation) under Judge Vince Chhabria. The first trial in the Roundup litigation has been scheduled for June 18, 2018, in the Superior Court for the County of San Francisco.




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