New Jersey was once one of the premiere venues for Mass Tort filings (now termed Multicounty Litigations in New Jersey). One of the reasons for this was the obvious fact that many large pharmaceutical companies maintain their principal place of business in New Jersey, making it very difficult for those pharmaceutical companies to remove cases brought against them in New Jersey Superior Court to federal District Court, due to the “forum defendant” rule (28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2)). Perhaps a more significant reason was the makeup of the New Jersey Superior Court’s Mass Tort bench at a time when nationally recognized jurists, such as the late Judge Carol E. Higbee, were on the cutting edge of high-stakes pharmaceutical litigation, like the seminal Vioxx cases.
The products we use in day-to-day life range from medications to bicycles to household cleaners to cell phones. When we use these items for their intended purpose, we don’t expect to be harmed by them. Yet design defects, manufacturing defects, and failure to warn claims all arise from that unexpected harm. Product liability law is now largely governed by statute. But the case law preceding the statutes illustrates the underlying rationale for the application of strict liability to product liability cases.
In case you missed it, Stark & Stark has garnered a significant amount of local, regional, and national press attention for our recent $20 million pelvic mesh verdict against Johnson & Johnson in Philadelphia, PA. In the case, plaintiff Peggy Edelman alleged that a Johnson & Johnson pelvic mesh device implanted to relieve stress urinary incontinence in 2007 failed due to defect. Subsequent attempts to surgically remove the mesh after Ms. Engleman began experiencing pain and discomfort were unsuccessful. Nationally, Johnson & Johnson is facing tens of thousands of additional pelvic mesh lawsuits, including nearly 200 more in Philadelphia.
Below are some of the local, regional, and national press mentions for Stark & Stark and this very important verdict: Continue Reading
A Pennsylvania jury awarded a New Jersey woman $20 million for injuries she suffered after receiving a pelvic mesh implant made by Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
Following a three-week trial in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, Peggy Engleman of Cinnaminson, New Jersey, was awarded $2.5 million compensatory damages and $17.5 million in punitive damages.
Martin P. Schrama and Stefanie Colella-Walsh, both partners with Stark & Stark, filed the complaint on behalf of Ms. Engleman in 2013 and worked with a team of attorneys on the case.
The suit claimed that a TVT-Secur device manufactured by Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, was defective and the companies failed to warn users of the risks. Ms. Engleman had the device implanted in 2007 to relieve stress urinary incontinence, but said the device failed shortly thereafter. She began to experience pain and discomfort as the mesh started to erode inside her body and underwent multiple surgeries. Physicians were unable to remove all the shards of mesh in her abdomen.
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently reinstated a $25 million jury award for an Alabama man who suffered from severe inflammatory bowel disease after taking Accutane. Accutane is a prescription medication used for the treatment of acne.
In June 1995, while living in Alabama, the plaintiff was prescribed Accutane by his dermatologist and took the drug daily for four months. In November 1996, the plaintiff was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease in Alabama and was treated in that state. Ultimately, after multiple surgeries and complications, the plaintiff’s colon and rectum were removed and replaced with a “J-pouch.” He later underwent an ileostomy and had a colostomy bag for four years, followed by another “J-pouch” surgery. He continues to suffer residual pain and other symptoms.
Huge Victory in Hip Replacement Lawsuit
Despite multiple attempts by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to delay and dismiss the third DePuy Pinnacle hip implant bellwether trial, the case moved forward with outstanding results. After 12 weeks of trial, which included 32 witnesses called and 1,346 total admitted exhibits, Jurors awarded the six plaintiffs more than $1 billion in punitive damages and an additional $32 million in compensatory damages.
This recent hip replacement lawsuit verdict was governed by California law, so it is not subject to the same punitive damages cap as was seen in the earlier trial which was governed by Texas law. The impressive verdict sends a clear message to J&J, which plaintiffs hope will finally encourage J&J to settle the remaining 8,500 claims.
A Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) against 3M and Arizant Healthcare, alleging the manufacturers’ Bair Hugger surgical warming blankets were the cause of deadly post-surgical infections, has progressed to the bellwether pretrial stage. The more than 800 cases were recently consolidated in Minnesota under the purview of the Honorable Joan N. Ericksen. Bellwether case selection will begin on December 23, 2016, with final case selection to be completed on or before March 8, 2017.
The Bair Hugger forced air blankets are used to keep patients warm during surgery. The Master Complaint adopted by the Plaintiffs in the pending MDL alleges that “scientific studies have shown that as the warmed air rises against the downward airflow in the operating room, it deposits bacteria from the non-sterile portions of the operating theater to the surgical site.” The Master Complaint further alleges that “scientific studies have also shown that the inadequate air filtration system of the Bair Hugger allows pathogenic-carrying cells, including but not limited to isolates of S aureus, coagulase-negative staphylococci (“CoNS”), and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (“MRSA”), to penetrate the intake filter of the device and colonize inside the device.” Accordingly, it is alleged that without an adequate filtration system at the distal hose outlet, the device releases contaminants into the operating theater and directly onto the surgical site itself. Plaintiffs contend that Defendants have known, for over two decades, that “the Bair Hugger emits significant levels of internally generated airborne contaminants into the operating theater and that the exhaust generated thereby creates convective airflow patterns that disrupt the unidirectional airflow of the operating theater, dramatically increasing the risk of infection for patients undergoing lengthy surgeries, especially hip and knee replacement surgeries.”
If you or someone you love has been affected by the use of a Bair Hugger warming blanket and/or has suffered from a serious infection after surgery, you should consult an attorney with experience in litigation involving mass tort injuries related to medical devices and associated products. The attorneys at Stark & Stark are currently accepting clients with cases against 3M and Arizant Healthcare and can provide you with a free consultation to help ascertain if you are eligible for assistance.
Another talcum powder lawsuit has seen favorable results in Missouri. Unlike in New Jersey, where Multicounty Litigation (MCL) Judge Nelson C. Johnson rejected the science linking talc to ovarian cancer claims, a Missouri court again ruled in favor of the plaintiff—this time to the tune of $70 million. The plaintiff, Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto, California was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. In April and May of 2016, a Missouri court awarded $72 million and $55 million, respectively, for claims against Johnson & Johnson for ovarian cancer linked to its talcum powder products.
There has been a Class I recall of Alere INRatio and INRatio2 PT/INR monitoring devices manufactured by Alere Inc. These devices are used to monitor blood clotting time as measured by PT/INR values in people taking blood thinning medication, including warfarin (also known as Coumadin). A Class I recall, the most serious type of recall, is issued when the continued use of the recalled devices may cause serious injuries or death.
Essentially, the monitoring devices have been found to generate incorrect readings in certain circumstances. Such incorrect readings can result in improper anticoagulation dosing, which can lead to the risk of major or fatal bleeding.
Alere has been unable to develop an adequate modification to ensure the safety and effectiveness of their PT/INR monitoring devices, and the following Alere INRatio devices are subject to the recall:
- INRatio2 PT/INR Professional Monitoring System (55128A)
- INRatio2 PT/INR Home Monitoring System (0200432)
- INRatio2 Replacement Monitor (Home) (0200457)
- INRatio2 PT/INR Professional Testing System (0200431)
- INRatio/INRatio2 PT/INR Test Strips (99007EU, 99007G1, 99007G3,99007G5, 99007G7, 99008EU, 99008G1, 99008G3, 99008G5,99008G7)
- INRatio PT/INR System Professional (0100004)
- INRatio Prothrombin Time (PT) Monitoring System (0100007)
- INRatio Replacement Monitor (0100137)
- INRatio PT/INR Test Strips (0100071, 0100139)
(The recalled devices and test strips were distributed from April 1, 2008 to the middle of this year.)
If you or a loved one has suffered a bleeding injury from the use of one of these recalled Aledevices, you can contact Stark & Stark and speak to one of the Mass Tort/Pharmaceutical Litigation attorneys, free of charge, who can help assess any claims that you might have.
The third DePuy Pinnacle bellwether trial got off to a roaring start this week as Hon. Ed Kinkeade, District Judge for the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas, took control of his courtroom to set the tone for the trial. According to reports, he flatly denied both a continuance and a motion for a mistrial delivered by defendant, Johnson & Johnson, in the first few minutes of the proceedings. After lunch, Judge Kinkeade penalized both sides for wasting time over a witness objection. Later, Judge Kinkeade called a break with a warning to Johnson & Johnson’s lawyer that if he did not stand while objecting, he would be chastised in front of the jury.