What Happened In The MassTorts World Last Week? 2018-Sept-17

Wednesday, Sep 12, 2018

Delaware Superior Court Judge Charles Butler dismissed 200 talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits on Monday, which were filed by out-of-state plaintiffs. The dismissal was announced considering that J&J selling talc in Delaware is not sufficient for the state court to have a jurisdiction following the U.S. Supreme Court's Bristol-Myers Squibb ruling. The talcum giant is headquartered in New Jersey, while the cases were bought by Delaware plaintiffs.

Meanwhile, J&J is also seeking to dismiss a motion filed to allow jurisdictional discovery in the coordinated California docket for talcum powder claims bought by out-of-state plaintiffs. The opposition was filed on September 4 in the California Superior Court for Los Angeles County, where the defendants J&J and Imerys Talc Supplier assert the plaintiffs are not citizens of the state and they did not buy the product in the state.

Several Talcum powder trials are underway in federal courts across the nation over asbestos-related mesothelioma and ovarian cancer claims. The outcome of the bellwether trials would determine how juries would react to certain evidence and testimony for other related lawsuits. More than more than 10,000 claims are pending against the company in California, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia Courts. The multidistrict litigation (MDL 2738; In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation) involving allegations of asbestos-in-talc causing ovarian cancer has been centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings in the District of New Jersey presided over by Hon. Freda L. Wolfson, U.S.D.J./ Hon. Lois H. Goodman.


Wednesday, Sep 12, 2018

Judge Robert L. Miller Jr. overseeing the Biomet M2a hip implant multidistrict litigation transferred 46 cases to the plaintiffs' home courts to resolve case-specific issues such as timeliness and spoliation. The judge opined in a September 6 order that the cases would no longer benefit from pretrial proceedings and that the plaintiffs have not agreed upon the trial of cases in the MDL court.


More than 2,800 lawsuits have been filed against the hip implant maker for a wide variety of complications, including metallosis caused due to broken metal particles releasing into the blood from the artificial joint. Metal-on-metal hip implants have been associated with severe complications among several patients. The lawsuits filed across the nation claim the manufacturer was aware of the defective design of the device and purposely concealed its health risks.  The federal multidistrict litigation involves class action lawsuits filed against Zimmer, Biomet, Stryker and many other manufacturers for failing to provide an inadequate warning about the alleged device breakage.


Tuesday, Sep 11, 2018

Closely following Actavis and Endo, AbbVie Inc. recently filed a statement in Illinois federal court about reaching on a tentative deal to settle all Testosterone lawsuits pending in the multidistrict litigation against them.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly confirmed in an order that the cases pending against Abbvie & its subsidiaries Abbott Laboratories, Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Unimed Pharmaceuticals LLC would enter a global settlement phase under confidential terms. AbbVie Inc. faces more than 4,500 lawsuits claiming the company did not caution about the risks of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots that could occur from using their Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) drug AndroGel.

Endo International recently announced to settle all TRT claims against them in a separate track from the federal MDL. In June 2018, the company had agreed upon a $200 million tentative settlement for about 1,300 lawsuits. Actavis had admitted settling about 500 Androderm cases filed against it in July this year. Lawsuits filed against TRT providers accuse them of hiding health risks of injuries including heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and sudden death. Currently, there are more than 5,900 lawsuits pending in the testosterone multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2545; In Re: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Products Liability Litigation) presided by Judge Matthew Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois.


Tuesday, Sep 11, 2018

Ethicon Inc. and Johnson & Johnson have submitted a request on September 6 with the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider their motion for summary judgment and a new trial for a Prolift transvaginal mesh lawsuit. The motion was denied earlier by Judge Philip P. Simon of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in an August 8 ruling.

In March 2018, Barbara Kaiser was awarded $10 million in damages and $25 million in punitive damages by an Indiana jury for the complications caused by the transvaginal mesh. Later in August, the jury asked Kaiser to accept a $15 million reduction in punitive damages or face a new trial for the same. Kaiser was implanted with the Prolift mesh in 2009 to treat her pelvic organ prolapse. She experienced chronic pain after undergoing the repair surgery and sued the manufacturers in 2012. In her lawsuit, Kaiser blames the device makers for negligence in designing and marketing the Prolift transvaginal mesh.

J&J and its subsidiary Ethicon face more than 13,000 vaginal mesh lawsuits and 55,000 product liability claims across the country. A multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2327 | In Re Ethicon, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation) is overlooked by Judge Joseph R. Goodwin in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.


Tuesday, Sep 11, 2018

Dwaine Waters, who sued Johnson & Johnson for his alleged mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, agreed to dismiss his claims on the eve of a South Carolina trial for the talcum lawsuit. In his lawsuit, Waters blamed that asbestos presence in J&J's and Colgate-Palmolive's talcum powder products caused his fatal cancer. Additionally, he also stated he came in contact with asbestos at the workplace while working with industrial products.

J&J will face trial proceedings this month in Los Angeles Superior Court and Middlesex County Superior Court for allegations over its talcum powder causing ovarian cancer when used for personal hygiene. Asbestos exposure in manufacturing plants and mines has caused hazardous side-effects to several workers. Lawsuits filed against various industries claim the owners of not adequately warning about the risks of asbestos exposure to the workers.


Monday, Sep 10, 2018

Middlesex County Superior Judge Heidi Brieger told the jury that plaintiff Joanna Summerlin's late husband Louis Summerlin developed lung cancer as a result of smoking cigarettes and exposure to asbestos-laden brakes. The case headed to trial on September 6 in Massachusetts state court.

Louis Summerlin's family alleges that he used to smoke cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris, two packs per day for decades. His lawsuit also claims he was exposed to asbestos fibers while working around automotive products at Ford Motor Company and Honeywell International Inc. The lawsuit names the cigarette manufacturers and the motor companies as defendants. While the trial involves both the defendants blaming each other for the man's death, the jury opines both are responsible for Louis's mesothelioma, a tumor affecting the lung, heart, and stomach.

Asbestos exposure in manufacturing plants and mines has caused hazardous side-effects to several workers. Lawsuits filed against various industries claim the owners of not adequately warning about the risks of asbestos exposure to the workers.  


Monday, Sep 10, 2018

The Fourth District Appellate Court upended a $4.6 million verdict awarded to plaintiff Charles McKinney, who claimed to develop mesothelioma (lung cancer) from inhaling asbestos while working with the welding rod maker Hobart Brothers Company in the 1960s. The appeals court said the company was unaware of their rods releasing the carcinogenic substance. The company was cleared of inadequate warning accusation from the plaintiff. Charles, 74, worked at the Bloomington firm ever since he was 19 years of age and filed a lawsuit against the company for failing to warn about the health hazards of the asbestos in the flux of its welding stick electrodes.

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


Monday, Sep 10, 2018

Plaintiff Robert Brown filed an opposition on September 4, before Judge Pamela Reeves of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, responding to the summary judgment announced for Exatech Inc.'s AcuMatch hip implant lawsuit last month.

The company had announced a summary judgment declaring that there was no written warranty that the device would last longer than 15 years; hence, the case could be excluded under Texas law. However, Brown stated that his case must be considered as an exception to the Texas statute of repose because the company's sales representatives vouched for the device to last 15 to 20 years. He accuses that Exatech purposely covered up design defects in their hip implant device thereby affecting the limitation period. Brown underwent a total arthroplasty of his left hip on September 14, 2001, during which an AcuMatch M-Series Femoral Stem was implanted in his hip. In 2016, the device broke into half and required him to undergo a total hip revision surgery. He filed a product liability action against the company on August 24, 2017, in the Northern District of Texas.

Hip implant failures are on the rise across the U.S. with several affected patients accusing the implant makers of illegally marketing the product as safe to use. Zimmer, Biomet, Stryker and many other manufacturers involved in the class action litigation for failing to provide an inadequate warning about the alleged device breakage.


Monday, Sep 10, 2018

In an order issued on August 22, 2018, Judge Jane T. Milazzo sanctioned a Taxotere plaintiff, Dr. Kelly Gahan for withholding requested information about her medical history.

Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC and Sanofi US Services Inc. asserted that Gahan was required to reveal the name of the treating doctor and whether she used any over-the-counter medications. However, she never disclosed that Dr. David Weinstein treated her for hair loss and used misleading discovery tactics to conceal information about the medical treatment she had received. Sanofi discovered about her treatment when she produced thousands of pages of emails during the discovery process, which revealed she used to often email Dr. Weinstein about her hair regrowth progress. Judge Milazzo stated, “the Court is troubled by Gahan’s conduct. She is a sophisticated plaintiff, and she is a representative plaintiff in this litigation." In her deposition statement, Gahan admitted of asking Weinstein to evade Sanofi's request for her medical records. She also instructed one of her employers to withhold her employment and medical records. The federal judge has asked Gahan to compensate the expenses and attorney’s fees incurred in obtaining her treatment records.

The chemotherapy drug Taxotere has been reported to cause permanent hair loss in several individuals. Cases filed in the federal and state courts accuse the drug maker of false marketing the medication. 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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