Recently, Stark & Stark’s Mass Tort team successfully argued for the reinstatement of two dozen previously dismissed wrongful death claims against Bristol-Myers Squibb.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Arpert ruled that federal toxic tort law preempts any limitations period in New Jersey’s Wrongful Death Act. Originally, it had been held that the time that plaintiffs had to file their claims was restricted to two years after death. This latest ruling expands the time to when plaintiffs knew, or reasonably should have known, that Bristol-Myers Squibb caused the plaintiffs’ deaths.

In these cases, plaintiffs allege that Bristol-Myers Squibb knew that its manufacturing facility in New Brunswick, New Jersey, had contaminated the surrounding working class neighborhood for several decades, but failed to notify residents. Plaintiffs further allege that they had no way of knowing the extent of toxic contaminants discharged into their neighborhood by Bristol-Myers Squibb, including chromium, arsenic and chlorinated solvents.

Judge Arpert’s ruling allows 24 families, who were previously barred from seeking compensation, the ability to have their case heard and adjudicated. You can read coverage of Judge Arpert’s decision here and here.

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Photo of Stefanie Colella-Walsh Stefanie Colella-Walsh

Stefanie Colella-Walsh is a Shareholder and member of Stark & Stark’s Litigation, Insurance Coverage & Liability, Intellectual Property and Mass Torts Groups where she concentrates her practice in complex litigation with a focus in mass tort and pharmaceutical litigation. She is currently involved…

Stefanie Colella-Walsh is a Shareholder and member of Stark & Stark’s Litigation, Insurance Coverage & Liability, Intellectual Property and Mass Torts Groups where she concentrates her practice in complex litigation with a focus in mass tort and pharmaceutical litigation. She is currently involved in representing numerous plaintiffs in federal and state environmental and pharmaceutical mass tort cases, as well as state and federal class action litigations based upon commercial, employment, civil rights, investments/securities and consumer fraud claims. Ms. Colella-Walsh frequently writes about timely legal and legislative developments impacting plaintiffs in mass tort and product liability actions for Stark & Stark’s Mass Tort Law Blog.