A weekly update on interesting numbers in product liability, class action and mass tort news from July 28–August 3. Published Fridays.
The stage of the talc trial currently going on in Los Angeles. Earlier this week, former Harvard professor John Godleski testified that he had found “numerous talc particles” in ovarian tissue removed from the plaintiff, Eva Echeverria. Godleski has testified in previous trials involving Johnson & Johnson’s talc products and in 2007 authored an article in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggesting that external use of talc could reach the pelvic lymph nodes, potentially influencing the risk between ovarian cancer and use of talc products. Johnson & Johnson and Imerys S.A., their talc supplier, continue to face lawsuits around the country.
The verdict an Illinois jury levied against AbbVie for misleading consumers about their AndroGel testosterone boosting product. Jesse Mitchell, the plaintiff in the case, accused the company of failing to disclose the potential for the product to cause blood clots after he suffered a heart attack after using AndroGel. The jury found that AndroGel did not cause Mitchell’s heart attack, but still required the company to pay damages for misleading consumers about the product’s safety. Though some law professors think that the verdict will be overturned, it was still suggested this week that the verdict could present challenges for AbbVie in ongoing multidistrict litigation involving their testosterone products.
The next bellwether case Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics will face in litigation involving their metal-on-metal hip implants. This week, as the companies headed into their latest bellwether over the medical devices, Johnson & Johnson argued that they should not be held responsible for subsidiary DePuy’s implants. Previous bellwethers over the hip implants have left the companies facing judgments of over $1 billion and had found Johnson & Johnson aided DePuy in their negligent action. Plaintiffs accuse the companies of failing to disclose that their Pinnacle line of hip implants could shed metal, potentially resulting in pain, metal poisoning and necessitating expensive revision surgeries. Johnson & Johnson and DePuy are not the only companies facing litigation over metal-on-metal hip implants — other medical device companies have encountered similar lawsuits.
Length of time until the first bellwether trial involving 3M’s Bair Hugger warming blankets. This week, the court governing the action involving the medical devices amended the pretrial schedule for the litigation, giving lawyers until late 2017 to depose expert witnesses in the case. The day for the first bellwether trial remained unchanged. Over 2,600 patients accuse 3M of failing to inform them of the risk for joint infections associated with the surgical blankets, used in 80% of U.S. hospitals. Plaintiffs say that the blankets can recirculate contaminants in the room and increase the likelihood that those contaminants enter the surgical site, causing infection.
The estimated market size for consumer wipes through 2018, according to industry research company Freedonia Group. Despite forecasted growth in the wipes market, wipe manufacturers are beginning to face increased litigation over what it means to be “flushable.” Though the wipes generally pass through toilets, flushed wipes can congeal with fat in sewers and cause major blockages called “fatbergs” — in 2015, a water company in Chelsea, London removed a 10 ton fatberg that broke a sewer in the English district. This week, a California judge certified a class in proposed consumer product litigation against Procter & Gamble (P&G), one manufacturer of wet wipes. The judge rejected P&G’s argument that not everyone in the class had the same understanding of what it meant to be “flushable,” meaning the consumer goods company will face the accusations that they misled consumers about their wet wipe product.
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