What Happened In The MassTorts World Last Week? 2018-Nov-05

Friday, Nov 2, 2018

Moving along the federal pelvic mesh litigation against Johnson & Johnson, on October 26, Washington State’s Attorney General found the company liable for fraudulently marketing their defective pelvic mesh.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a motion for partial summary judgment in King County Superior Court asking the judge to rule that J&J failed to reveal the devastating side effects of the surgical mesh devices and violated the State's Consumer Protection Act. The motion for the partial summary judgment would be heard on December 14, 2018. The state is seeking a maximum penalty of $2,000 per violation including costs, fees, restitution, and additional relief which amount to $24 million in total. For any issues remaining unresolved, a trial date has been set for April 22, 2019.

J&J and Ethicon have so far sold more than 12,000 polypropylene mesh devices in the state of Washington between 2002 and 2015. The lawsuits filed by several women across the nation claim that the device did not undergo proper clinical trials before being extensively marketed. As of October 2018, Ethicon faces more than 20,000 cases in the with the complaints of erosion, organ perforation, severe pain, and urinary problems. Ethicon Pelvic Mesh lawsuits are consolidated as a part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2327; In Re: Ethicon, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.


Friday, Nov 2, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the SGLT2 class of drug Invokana to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular (CV) events in high-risk Type 2 patients.

Global therapy area head, James List, confirmed the news stating, "this FDA approval makes Invokana the only oral type 2 diabetes treatment indicated to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or CV death. It is an important step forward for patients and the physicians who treat them. Not only does Invokana enable patients to control their diabetes symptoms by lowering their A1C levels, but it now also helps protect them from potentially devastating cardiovascular events.”

As per the announcement, this new indication applies to the fixed-dose combinations of Invokamet tablets and Invokamet XR. Lawsuits filed against J&J over Invokana allege its use has led to amputations of legs, feet, toes, and partial scrotum, diabetic ketoacidosis, kidney failure, cardiac arrest, and urinary tract infections. As of September 2018, the multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2750; In Re: Invokana (Canagliflozin) Products Liability Litigation) holds more than 1,100 cases over Invokana complications, which are centralized before Honorable Brian R. Martinotti in District of New Jersey for coordinated pretrial proceedings.


Thursday, Nov 1, 2018

On Wednesday a Northern California groundskeeper agreed to accept a judge's reduced verdict of $78 million against Monsanto after a jury found the company's weed killer caused his cancer.

A jury unanimously decided in August 2018, glyphosate exposure from Roundup caused the 46-year-old's non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Johnson's doctor testified that he would live for less than three years. A San Francisco jury awarded the plaintiff $289 million in damages to be paid by Monsanto. However, Judge Suzanne Bolanos found the $250 million punitive damages awarded to the plaintiff was too high and reduced it to $39.5 million in an order issued last month, making the total amount to be $78 million. Johnson was given time till December 7 to accept the reduced award. Robin McCall, Johnson's spokeswoman, said his attorney was not satisfied with the judge's settlement reduction but accepted the amount hoping for "a final resolution within his lifetime."

Johnson was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 when he used Monsanto's Roundup and Ranger Prov herbicides at a San Francisco Bay Area school. About 5,200 people have filed lawsuits against Monsanto for concealing its health hazards from consumers. 470 federal cases have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation in the Northern District of California presided by Judge Vince Chhabria.


Thursday, Nov 1, 2018

On October 31, 2018, a unanimous three-judge panel in the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the $2.5 million Risperdal verdict awarded to an Alabama boy, who developed breasts due to the antipsychotic drug.

The case was the first among thousands of other product liability lawsuits filed against J&J. In August 2015, J&J appealed to overturn the verdict awarded to Plaintiff Austin Pledger. Pledger was on Risperdal to treat his autism-related behavioral issues, and his parents claimed his abnormal breast growth was the result of the drug's side effect.

More than 7,000 Risperdal product liability lawsuits against J&J are 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).


Wednesday, Oct 31, 2018

In an order issued on October 29, 2018, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a case involving withdrawal symptoms of Abilify use, stating that the plaintiff failed to prove warnings provided by the drugmaker were inadequate.

The order asserted that plaintiff Peter Casey did not present sufficient facts to support his claims that the defendants withheld material evidence from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration associated with the hazards of Abilify. Casey started taking the antipsychotic medicine produced by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. in 2011 and discontinued in June 2016. Other than Casey, thousands of product liability lawsuits are filed against Abilify makers; all raise similar allegations of failure to warn the patients and health regulators about the adverse effects of the drug to gamble, binge eating, compulsive shopping, and risky sexual activity.

As of September 2018, 1,675 Abilify cases are pending in the Northern District of North Florida, where similar cases are consolidated into a multidistrict litigation MDL No. 2734 (In Re: Abilify Compulsive Behavior Products Liability Litigation) overlooked by U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers.  


Tuesday, Oct 30, 2018

A Massachusetts state court jury awarded $ 43.1 million to the family of late Louis Summerlin, a former brake worker, to be paid by R.J. Reynolds;  Reynolds was ordered to pay $13.1 million as compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages for Louis Summerlin's death in 2015. The jury also returned a defense verdict for the other defendants remaining in the asbestos-tobacco trial at that time.

The decision was made on October 12 by Judge Heidi Brieger in the Massachusetts Superior Court for Suffolk County. The case was the first ever asbestos-tobacco case tried in Massachusetts. The jury found R. J. Reynolds liable for the man's lung cancer death; however, it cleared Philip Morris and Hampden Automotive Sales Corporation of the responsibility. During the closing ceremony, Summerlin's attorney Jerome Block asserted that the cigarettes sold by Philip Morris and RJR’s menthol brands were made to be highly addictive, and Summerlin's addiction to them started years and years before there were any warnings on the pack. Block also argued Hampden was responsible for not warning the workers like Summerlin about asbestos brake lining dangers.

There are over 6,000 companies sued for concealing the hazards of asbestos exposure at the workplace. The two primary asbestos-related diseases are mesothelioma and asbestosis; both are not diagnosed in early stages. Mesothelioma is detected typically about forty years or more after the asbestos exposure has occurred.


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