What Happened In The MassTorts World Last Week? 2018-Sept-10

Friday, Sep 7, 2018

Endo Pharmaceuticals plans to settle all lawsuits against its prescription opioid Opana painkiller in a separate track, hoping to put a cap on its legal exposure. The Dublin-based manufacturer is attempting to resolve by the end of the year more than 1,000 lawsuits filed against them by state attorneys general and private, representing cities and counties. Though Endo's opioid settlement negotiations are in the early stage, it might get the early-bird advantage of settling for lesser settlement amount by making the first-move among several other defendants in the litigation.

The opioid crisis has taken the lives of several individuals across the U.S. who got addicted to taking the painkiller more than the prescribed times. All the lawsuits filed against the drug makers claim that the drugs were responsible for addiction often prompting an individual to resort to criminal activities to steal and pay for the drug. Other companies who face a failure to warn allegation and illegal marketing charges include Johnson & Johnson (and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals), Allergan, Purdue Pharma L, McKesson Corporation and several others. 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. The first bellwether trial in the litigation has been scheduled for September 3, 2019.


Friday, Sep 7, 2018

In an order issued on August 31, U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers instructed all plaintiffs in Abilify litigation to furnish more information to estimate the inventory of the alleged gambling cases filed against the drug maker in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).

Both the parties were granted time until September 1, 2018, to draft a global settlement plan for the gambling losses claims. Though the parties have indicated progress about the settlement negotiations, a final settlement program has not been submitted to the court yet. Plaintiffs are required to submit a Supplemental Plaintiff Profile Form by October 31, which can provide insights into the questions about their Abilify use, gambling addiction diagnosis, and other details related to their case. Judge Rogers indicated, “the Supplemental PPF must be signed by each plaintiff under penalty of perjury; failure to timely submit a completed Supplemental PPF will result in sanctions, up to and including dismissal of a case.”

The next case management conference in the Abilify litigation has been scheduled for September 13, 2018. As of August 2018, more than 1,660 Abilify lawsuits are pending in the federal court against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, related to the allegation that Abilify makers failed to warn about the gambling effects of the drug. Abilify lawsuits were centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings in October 2016 as a part of multidistrict litigation MDL No. 2734 (In Re: Abilify Compulsive Behavior Products Liability Litigation) in the Northern District of Florida before Judge M. Casey Rodgers.


Thursday, Sep 6, 2018

U.S. District Judge Denise J. Casper ruled in favor of Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. on Wednesday over claims by a Bay State man that the antipsychotic drug Risperdal caused him to gain excessive weight during his teenage years.

The lawsuit, filed by Emmanuel Jackson and his parents, lacked the backing of a medical expert to support their claim that Risperdal intake led to Emmanuel's unusual weight gain. Risperdal lawsuits filed across the U.S. accuse Johnson & Johnson and its affiliates of illegally marketing the product even after being aware of its gynecomastia risk. Individuals affected also claim the drug makers failed to warn that it is no more effective and comparatively less safe than other antipsychotic medications.

Over 7,000 Risperdal product liability lawsuits are filed in the Pennsylvania State Court against Janssen and its parent company J&J. 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).


Thursday, Sep 6, 2018

In an order issued on September 4, Senior Judge David Campbell, overlooking C.R. Bard IVC Filter litigation, denied a motion filed by plaintiff Lisa Hyde to exclude evidence linked to the device instructions from the next bellwether trial.

The motion filed by the plaintiff stated certain guidelines published by the Society of Interventional Radiologists (SIR) be barred from use in the upcoming trial.  However, the Arizona federal judge denied the request on the fact that, the instructions are relevant to the design defect claims filed by the plaintiff. Hyde was implanted with a Bard IVC filter in 2011 to treat her deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms. While Bard stated an Eclipse model was implanted, Hyde indicates it was G2X Blood vessel filter.  In 2014, the device was found to be fractured and was eventually removed.

C.R. Bard's G2 Series of IVC Filter has been reported to rupture easily and migrate into the body, perforating blood vessels and other organs. Bard faces more than 3,800 lawsuits related to the severe internal injuries caused due to the device breakage. A multidistrict litigation (MDL No.2641; In Re: Bard IVC Filters Products Liability Litigation) was created on August 17, 2015, in the United States District Court District of Arizona, presided over by Judge David G. Campbell for centralized pretrial proceedings.


Thursday, Sep 6, 2018

In an order issued on August 27, 2018, the New York Supreme Court for New York County rejected a summary judgment motion filed by Colgate-Palmolive over a talcum powder case. The court found that the defendants failed to prove that their talcum products are free from asbestos fibers.

Asbestos exposure has allegedly caused mesothelioma in several individuals who used talc-based products or came in contact with asbestos particles while working at construction sites, mining companies and Navy bases. In a recent verdict, a Missouri judge awarded $ 4.7 Billion to 22 women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer due to prolonged use of J&J's asbestos-laden talcum powder for personal hygiene.


Wednesday, Sep 5, 2018

Considering the recommendations made by a government-appointed committee, the Indian Drug Regulator has asked Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay ₹20 lakh as interim compensation to each affected individual who suffered complications due to the company's defective hip implant, Articular Surface Replacement (ASR), manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics (a subsidiary of J&J).

The decision was sent out as a letter by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) to J&J asking them to provide this base compensation to all affected patients in India. According to J&J, about 4,600 individuals in India received the alleged hip implant, of which 3,600 patients are yet to be traced. The regulator has also asked the company to reinstate its medical management programme for the affected patients which they discontinued last year. That would be mean the company must bear the reimbursement of medical costs till 2025 as the average life of the orthopedic implant is 15 years.

In the United States, DePuy faces more than 11,000 lawsuits over complications related to their ASR and Pinnacle hip implants. As of August 2018, 1,715 lawsuits over ASR hips are pending in an Ohio federal court. Recently, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade awarded $ 245 million to six plaintiffs over the alleged Pinnacle Hip Implant defects. About 28,000 lawsuits have been filed against various hip implant makers in the U.S., involving defendants Zimmer, Stryker, Biomet, Wright, and Smith & Nephew.


Wednesday, Sep 5, 2018

An Alameda County Jury in California Superior Court has ruled in favor of Hennessy Industries LLC, a successor of AMMCO Tools Inc., dismissing allegations by plaintiff Donald Knutson that he developed mesothelioma due to the asbestos exposure while working on a brake arc grinder at AMMCO.

The trial began on July 2, presided over by Judge Brad Seligman, and the final verdict was announced on August 8, 2018. Though the jury agreed that asbestos exposure was the reason for Knutson's mesothelioma, they steered clear that AMMCO was not negligent in any manner. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos while working in the United States Navy and also when he dealt with various friction products at Hennessy. He sued the company over risk-benefit, consumer expectation, and failure to warn claims arguing that the defendants knew or should have known about the dangers of the brake arc grinder. The California jury declined all of these strict liability claims against Hennessy Industries.

Asbestos exposure has reportedly caused mesothelioma, a deadly form of a tumor affecting the heart, lung, and stomach among many individuals at workplaces and also through exposure to asbestos-laden talc found in talcum powder.


Monday, Sep 3, 2018

In a recent verdict, a Los Angeles County jury announced $ 8.45 million to be awarded to Robert “Bob” Swanson's son over the lawsuit allegations that Robert developed mesothelioma due to the asbestos exposure while working at Weil-McLain. The jury found the boiler manufacturer 60% liable for causing him deadly cancer, making them responsible for $5.070 million of the total award for being grossly negligent.

Robert worked as a career plumber and pipefitter for Weil-McLain brand boilers, where his job mainly involved asbestos insulation on the boilers. And during maintenance, he used to scrape and clean off old asbestos gaskets before installing new ones. He testified that asbestos exposure during installation caused him the lung cancer, which was diagnosed in October 2014. His medical records reveal, he underwent extrapleural pneumonectomy to remove the cancerous lung followed by chemotherapy and radiation. His vocal cords got destroyed during the procedure, and 16 months later he succumbed to death,

The asbestos trial presided over by Hon. C. Edward Simpson against the manufacturer started on July 23. This is believed to be the largest verdict against Weil-McLain till date.


Monday, Sep 3, 2018

In an order issued on August 29, 2018, Judge Lorna Schofield stated that the jury found no valid evidence in the allegations by plaintiff Jamal Adeghe that Janssen Pharmaceuticals is liable for design defects in their antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

Adeghe began Risperdal consumption as a 10-year-old in 2003 to treat depression, aggression, and impulsive behavior. A year later he was diagnosed with gynecomastia- development of glandular breast tissue in males. Though he discontinued it soon after, over the next 10 years he was again prescribed the medicine to treat his behavioral issues. Adeghe filed a lawsuit in 2014 against Janssen and other drug companies over negligence, strict products liability, manufacturing defect, failure to warn, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, and negligent misrepresentation. However, the New York federal jury denied claims that the Risperdal the plaintiff used deviated from Janssen’s intended design, or that the plaintiff relied solely on any misrepresentation by Janssen.

Janssen and its parent company J&J face over 7,000 Risperdal product liability lawsuits filed in the Pennsylvania State Court. 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).


Monday, Sep 3, 2018

U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim announced in a pretrial order issued on August 17 that 18 more cases would be included in the second stage of bellwether trials for nerve damages linked to Avelox and Cipro, each party is required to select eight from their side.

The cases selected by the plaintiffs and defendants must comprise of seven Avelox cases and two Cipro cases. A further expert discovery process would be done for the eight cases shortlisted by the court from those 18 cases. The selections only include cases filed after April 21, 2016; it does not include the claims where the plaintiffs took more than one of the medications in trouble. The first Avelox bellwether trial is slated for November 2018, the second Avelox case for January 2019, and two more in June and August 2019. The Cipro trials have been scheduled for March 2019. The trial dates would be finalized by late 2019 or early 2020 unless the drugmakers decide for a global settlement of all related lawsuits.

Fluoroquinolone lawsuits filed blame the makers for hiding the risk of long-lasting peripheral neuropathy associated with the drug. The defendant list includes Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co, Johnson & Johnson, and others for false marketing defective and dangerous drugs.


Monday, Sep 3, 2018

As per an order issued on August 24 in Middlesex County Superior court, an initial Case Management Conference for Taxotere lawsuits has been scheduled for October 4, 2018, at 10 a.m. in New Jersey.

A week prior to the conference, the parties are required to submit a brief statement with certain information to help the court identify any problems of recusal or disqualification. The parties must surrender documents related to the status of discovery, status settlement negotiations, settlement demands, mediation and prospects for settlement, along with the list of all related actions pending in the state and federal courts and their current status data. The NJ Superior County transferred 353 Taxotere hair loss cases to Middlesex County on August 15. Any lawsuit filed in New Jersey with similar claims would be included in the multicounty litigation.

Taxotere, manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis, is widely used as a chemotherapy drug. Plaintiffs across the nation allege the makers were aware of the permanent alopecia effect of the drug and failed to provide an adequate warning to doctors and patients. The multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2740; In Re: Taxotere (Docetaxel) Products Liability Litigation) includes about 9,000 federal cases that have been centralized in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana for pretrial proceedings.


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