The Week in Numbers, June 30th Edition

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A weekly update on interesting numbers in product liability, class action and mass tort news from June 23–June 29. Published Fridays.

5 days

The length of time a court in California allocated to determine which expert witnesses will testify in the upcoming Johnson & Johnson talc trial. More than 300 plaintiffs in the state of California allege that use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc products caused ovarian cancer. Previous trials in Missouri concerning talc’s connection to ovarian cancer have awarded plaintiffs over $300 million. However, in the state of New Jersey, a consolidated docket of talc claims has been put on hold after a judge’s decision to exclude plaintiff expert witnesses. The California court’s decision about expert witnesses could set the tone for future talc litigation.

50 to 60 cents per sandwich

The amount of money a Queens woman claims she and others were “tricked” out of when buying a Dunkin’ Donuts Angus Steak & Egg bagel sandwich. In a newly filed lawsuit, Chufen Chen alleges that the aforementioned Dunkin’ Donuts sandwich does not contain steak, but rather a ground beef patty “falsely” advertised as steak. Chen proposes forming a class action to cover all of those customers harmed by the purchase of the sandwich or its wrap version, the Snack N’ Go.

Proposition 65

The California state law under which glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, will be added to the state’s list of cancer-causing chemicals. The herbicide company has been challenging the addition of the chemical to the carcinogen list, but suffered a setback when the state appellate court and California supreme court denied their request for a stay. Following the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer’s finding that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic,” Monsanto has battled lawsuits claiming that their Roundup products cause cancer, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Unless Monsanto wins their challenge to the listing, they will have about a year from July 7 to re-label their Roundup products as cancer-causing.

1.6 billion dollars

The price Michigan-based Key Safety Systems will pay to acquire Takata, the Japanese auto parts company. On June 25, Takata filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. court and is expected to also file for bankruptcy in Japan. Takata’s bankruptcy filings follow a $1 billion penalty earlier this year after the company stood accused of making airbag inflators that could explode and throw shrapnel. Takata admitted they hid evidence about the nature of the airbag inflators, linked to at least 180 injuries and at least 16 deaths worldwide. Key Safety Systems will acquire all of Takata’s global assets except those related to the airbag inflators.

700 workers

The number of employees Beef Products Inc. said they had to lay off after ABC News ran a story describing their “lean finely textured beef” as “pink slime.” The South Dakota-based Beef Products claimed in a libel lawsuit against ABC News that the phrase “pink slime” turned off consumers from purchasing the product, resulting in the closure of three plants. Beef Products sought $1.9 billion in damages in the suit, which could have tripled to $5.7 billion under a South Dakota law aimed at protecting food producers. After three weeks in a South Dakota court, the parties settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Some worry that the decision to settle could chill criticism of food practices.

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