This Week In Mass Torts Around The Country: Week of February 19, 2018

By MASS TORT NEXUS MEDIA

 

Opiate MDL 2804 Settlement Talks Start Before Discovery

See also OPIOID CRISIS BRIEFCASE: MDL 2804 OPIATE PRESCRIPTION LITIGATION

>Federal Judge Dan Polster has ordered the start of formal settlement talks as the way to begin the Opiate Rx MDL 2804, he’s entered a settlement gag order and strongly suggesting the parties move ahead in this area or he will be forced “let both sides loose on each other and the government via wide open discovery” including access to the FDA and DEA files. The fate of multidistrict litigation over the opioid crisis now rests heavily with 18 plaintiff and defense counsel who’ve been tasked with negotiating a settlement in the historic case. The negotiators, chosen earlier this month, are from two camps: seven attorneys representing local governments that assert grievous financial harm from the opioid crisis, and 11 attorneys representing opioid manufacturers and distributors. Their assignment is daunting: broker a quick and meaningful deal that earmarks money for all parties who’ve been affected by the flood of opioids into the US marketplace over the last 15 years.

Johnson & Johnson Talc Use Will Kill Plaintiff Eventually Per Experts in NJ Talc Trial

See also Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Litigation Briefcase

>An occupational medicine expert told a New Jersey state court jury this week that a man alleging Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder contains asbestos faces a painful death from mesothelioma, and that the disease was caused by his daily use of J&J’s products.  According to plaintiff expert occupational health M.D. Jacqueline Moline, of the Feinstein Institute of Medical Research testified on behalf of plaintiff Stephen Lanzo, to support his claim that J&J’s products, including its baby powder, contained the asbestos that caused his mesothelioma.  Earlier this week, another plaintiff expert, William Longo, an electron microscopist told jurors Tuesday that he found asbestos in more than half of the 32 samples of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products he had examined during a trial alleging that using J&J talc caused  him to develop mesothelioma, In the trials fourth week, Mr. Longo was called to the stand as a materials science and electron microscopy expert to support plaintiff Stephen Longo’s claim that J&J is responsible for his mesothelioma, an asbestos-related disease that is fatal.

 Xarelto Phila Court Bellwether Plaintiff Argues Trial Evidence Ignored

See Also XARELTO Case No. 2349 in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Briefcase – Complex Litigation (PA State Court)

>Lynn Hartman, the woman who won a $28 million verdict in December 2017, in the first Philadelphia  bellwether trial over injuries linked to the blood thinner Xarelto has argued the Pennsylvania judge Michael Erdos, who threw out her damages award ignored evidence that additional warnings would not have changed her doctor’s decision to prescribe the medication. In a January 9th hearing Judge Erdos ruled for defense on their Motion to Vacate the Judgment on various grounds, and during the same hearing the judge also ruled on plaintiff trial counsel trial misconduct matters, which resulted in  various sanctions against certain members of Ms. Hartman’s trial team.

 Purdue Pharma Initiated Opioid Crisis With Massive Opiate Rx Marketing Push

See also Targeting Big Pharma and Their Opiate Marketing Campaigns

>Several New Jersey counties and unions have filed suits against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers, distributors and retailers in New Jersey state courts, which is outside of the Federal MDL Opiate Prescription MDL 280, in the last 30 days, accusing Purdue of sparking the opioid epidemic with deceptive marketing practices that the others eventually adopted. The claims in NJ sate court appear to be a strategic move to provide local governmental entities with a home court advantage versus jumping into the every growing MDL 2804, where Judge Polster has already moved the parties into settlement talks. There are now many other counties and states that have decided to litigate opioid claims in their own state courts versus joining the masses in the federal MDL, how this plays out in the long run remains to be seen. Several county and state court suits originally placed in the Opiate MDL have already been remanded back to state courts by the federal court.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Hears Risperdal SOL Dismissal Arguments

 See also  RISPERDAL – PHILADELPHIA COURT of COMMON PLEAS

 >A Johnson & Johnson unit on Tuesday urged the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to leave standing a recent decision jeopardizing thousands of pending lawsuits by rolling back the clock on when claims of abnormal breast growth allegedly linked to the antipsychotic drug Risperdal began to expire. The justices are weighing whether to hear an appeal of a November ruling from the state’s Superior Court finding that a two-year statute of limitations of Risperdal-related lawsuits, more than 6,600 of which are pending in Philadelphia County, should have started the Statute of Limitations clock, which if upholds the decisions, will cause the dismissal of many of the cases in the Phila court Risperdal docket. J&J has not fared well to date in the Risperdal cases, with verdicts against now reaching the hundreds of millions of dollars and a recent ruling that Punitive damages are now permitted for many cases. J&J’s Janssen R&D division is also facing thousands of suit in the Xarelto litigation also filed in the Phila Court of Common Pleas docket.

Pennsylvania Appeals Court Won’t Overturn Plaintiff Risperdal Verdict

See also Punitive Damages Now Allowed in Philadelphia Risperdal Suits Per Superior Court Ruling

>A Pennsylvania appeals court on Tuesday rejected efforts by a Johnson & Johnson unit to challenge expert testimony relied on by jurors in finding that the antipsychotic drug Risperdal had caused a Maryland boy to grow female breast tissue. A three-judge Superior Court panel shot down arguments from Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. that Dr. Francesco DeLuca had improperly relied on an 8-year-old photograph to conclude that Nicholas Murray had been suffering from gynecomastia, or the abnormal growth of female breast tissue in males, at the time the drug was prescribed. However the Superior Court panel did rule that  the Murray v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, case would go back to the trial court for further determination as to the jury award cap based on Maryland law, wher the plaintiff resides,  and taking into account the recent Superior Court ruling that permits punitive damages in the Risperdal litigation. The Murray trial which was the third case to go to trial in the Risperdal mass tort docket in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The plaintiff was initially awarded a $1.75 million verdict, which was later reduced by the trial court to $680,000, pursuant to the Maryland statute capping damages.  The unanimous panel rejected defendant Janssen Pharmaceutical’s attempt to overturn the verdict and affirmed the trial judge’s decision to limit the jury award based on a Maryland law that caps noneconomic damages.  However, citing its decision in a case last month that opened the doors for Risperdal plaintiffs to seek recovery of punitive damages, Judge John Bender remanded the case to the trial court to determine whether plaintiff Nicholas Murray, a Maryland resident, should be allowed to seek punitive damages in the case.

State of Kentucky Files Opioid Suit in State Court

See State of Kentucky and Counties vs. Opioid Makers and Distributors

 >Drug distributor Cardinal Health has exacerbated the opioid epidemic by filling suspicious drug orders and neglecting to alert the authorities about them, Kentucky’s attorney general claimed in a suit filed Monday in state court. Andy Beshear, lead plaintiff counsel claims Cardinal shipped massive opioid orders throughout Kentucky for years, that were unusually large, frequent and deviated from a past pattern, shunning its own data and “common sense” in favor of profits and market share. Beshear had previously sued McKesson Corp., who along with Cardinal and AmerisourceBergen, distributes 85 percent of the country’s prescription opiates, and are alleged to have engaged in an organized and boardroom acknowledged policy of not reporting massive opiate order increases or failing to accurately track the millions of opiate pills that made their way into so many small towns in the region of Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio. How the drug distribution monitors at these companies couldn’t recognize that often 2 million plus opioid tablets were being shipped to towns that had populations of less than 2,000 remains as the big question, that nobody at these Fortune 50 companies will admit to or acknowledge was an issue.  The lack of oversight and re[porting took place during the last 15 years of record breaking profits where billions of dollars in revenue were collected year in and year out by drug distribution companies.

Settlement Agreement Reached In Zimmer NexGen Knee MDL 2272

 See also ZIMMER NexGen Knee MDL 2272 Briefcase (USDC ND Illinois)

>Federal Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer enterd CMO No. 13 on February 12, 2018 placing a stay on proceeding in MDL 2272, pending the outcome of the finalization of the settlement discussion and a full resolution of the Zimmer NexGen Knee litigation. Lead counsel in the Zimmer NexGen litigation on Feb. 6 told Judge Pallmeyer, that they have reached an agreement in principle that will potentially resolve all MDL cases and similar cases filed in state court as of Jan. 15, 2018.  If approved, the settlement will end seven years of litigation, during which some 300 plaintiffs alleged the engineering changes that Zimmer made to allow a greater degree of flexibility in its NexGen components in fact caused greater stress on the knee implants. The NexGen high-flex components theoretically allow patients to bend their knees by 155 degrees, while standard NexGen components provide for up to 125 degrees of bending, according to the plaintiffs.

The Zimmer NexGen knee replacement system has been on the market, almost half a million people in the US alone have had Zimmer knee implants. However, the Zimmer knee replacement, namely the NexGen CR-Flex Porous Femoral component, has been linked to a variety of problems, from loosening of the implant to failure of the replacement knee, requiring revision surgery, as the plaintiffs in the MDL also allege.

The case is MDL 2272  Re: Zimmer NexGen Knee Implant Products Liability Litigation, (MDL Docket No. 2272, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois)

 

 

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DePuy Pinnacle Plaintiffs Request Cases Be Remanded For Trial in Hip Implant MDL 2244

Plaintiffs Request Remaining Pinnacle MDL 2244 Cases Be Remanded For Trial 

Mark A. York (February 9, 2018)

A DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant Component

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(MASS TORT NEXUS MEDIA) Plaintiffs have asked U.S. District Court Judge Ed Kinkeade, Northern District of Texas, who’s hearing thousands of hip implant lawsuits in the DePuy Orthopaedics’ Pinnacle Hip MDL 2244, to remand their cases to the original court of filing for individual trial dates.

According to the February 5th motion filed with the U.S. District Court, plaintiffs request the Court begin an “orderly and efficient staggered remand process,” where both plaintiffs and defense would select 10 cases each for remand to federal courts in California, New York and Texas, for a total of 60 cases being set for trial starting in 2019.

There were further requests that the Court begin not only the remand process, but start phased MDL discovery as well in peripherally related cases alleging RICO, qui tam and other non-personal injuries as part of the metal-on-poly hip revision lawsuits currently pending in the multidistrict litigation.

DePuy Pinnacle Implants and Metallosis

DePuy Orthopaedics,  a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, have been named in more than 9,500 hip replacement lawsuits involving the metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip system, which utilizes the Ultamet liner, pending in the multidistrict litigation (see DEPUY MDL 2244 Pinnacle Hip Implant Briefcase) currently underway in the Northern District of Texas.

Plaintiffs allege that the metal-on-metal design within the Ultamet liner configuration can cause dangerous amounts of toxic metal debris to be released into the joint surround the hip, and into the blood stream resulting in metallosis, causing adverse local tissue reactions, pseudotumor formation, and other complications that necessitate the need for revision surgery to replace the DePuy hip implant components.

 DePuy/J&J Loses Bellwether Trials

So far, the Pinnacle hip MDL 2244 litigation has convened four bellwether trials related to the metal-on-metal implants with the trial in October 2014, ending with a verdict for DePuy and Johnson & Johnson, which to date, is the only defense win in this litigation.

In the second trial, plaintiffs were awarded a verdict of $500 million in March 2016, however, Judge Kinkeade ultimately reduced the award to $151 million, based on Texas statutes that limit punitive damages. The third bellwether trial ending in December 2016, resulted in a massive billion dollar verdict, when six Pinnacle recipients who were residents of California were awarded more than $1 billion, with 90 percent of the verdict being punitive in nature, meant to send a clear message to the defendants. California does not have a limit on punitive damages, but the judge reduced the award to $543 million, based on the US Supreme Court ruling limiting excessive punitive damages. The most recent trial resulted in the plaintiff being awarded $247 million in November 2017.

J&J Wants To Avoid More Massive Verdicts

J&J are simply using every legal tool available to them, in an attempt to avoid another massive jury verdict like the one in the December 2016 Pinnacle Hip  trial, where California plaintiffs were awarded $1 billion in punitive damages, which the court subsequently reduced to $500 million on appeal. DePuy and J&J want to restrict plaintiffs in any way they can, as J&J is facing massive verdicts in other ongoing federal and state court cases related to its various medical device and pharmaceutical product lines.

DePuy Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Issues

In January 2013, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration warned that metal-on-metal hip replacements were associated with higher rates of early failure compared to those constructed from other materials. Last year, the FDA finalized a new regulation requiring the manufacturers of two types of metal-on-metal hips to submit a premarket approval (PMA) application if they wanted to continue marketing their current devices and/or market a new implant.

In August 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics announced a recall of its ASR metal-on-metal hip replacement system, after data indicated the hips were associated with a higher-than-expected rate of premature failure.  Plaintiffs who have filed Pinnacle hip lawsuits question why the company has not taken similar action in regards to the Pinnacle/Ultamet liner combination.

In May 2013, DePuy Orthopaedics did announce that it would phase out metal-on-metal hip implants, including the Pinnacle hip system. The New York Times stated that the company cited slowing sales, as well as the FDA’s changing regulatory stance on all-metal hip implants, as factors in its decision.

Artificial hips are designed to last for 15 years in the best of situations, often that is not the case with many implants failing after just 10 years, and in the case of design defects such as those alleged in Pinnacle devices and many other hip implants, onset of metallosis and other adverse conditions resulting, as well as the ever present implant mechanical breakdown, which cause life altering health problems for patients.

FDA Issues Pinnacle Warning

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued a warning in January 2013, stating that patients receiving metal-on-metal hip replacements were more likely to experience premature device failure compared to those who received other types of implants.

In November 2013, DePuy Orthopaedics announced a $2.5 billion settlement in the DePuy ASR Hip Impant MDL2197 ( MDL 2197 DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. ASR Hip Implant Briefcase), related to the ASR line of metal-on-metal hip implant components. DePuy ended sales of the all-metal Pinnacle hip system that same year, purportedly due to “low clinician use”. However, the company has so far declined to settle the Pinnacle hip litigation.

J&J Facing Many Legal Hurdles

Johnson & Johnson has been hit with numerous large jury verdicts across all areas of the J&J pharmaceutical and medical device operations, with plaintiff trial verdicts Risperdal, Ethicon TVM, Talcum Powder, Xarelto and other products, where recent combined trial verdicts have easily exceeded an additional $200 million. J&J and it’s subsidiaries are now facing more than 100 thousand lawsuits over it’s drug and medical device product lines, in both federal and state courts across the country. To complicate matters further for J&J, the recently started Opiate Prescription MDL 2804 (MDL 2804 Re: NATIONAL PRESCRIPTION OPIATE LITIGATION MDL 2804 Briefcase) names Johnson & Johnson as a defendant in suits filed by more than 400 cities, counties and states across the country.

 They Have Opioid MDL Issues Too

Perhaps J&J should look at settling some of the cases they’ve defended so aggressively over the last 5 years, such as the Pinnacle MDL 2244 to prepare for the Opioid Crisis litigation, which is now looking to displace Tobacco Litigation as far as size and scope as well as the massive multi-billion dollar settlements and years of ongoing litigation that came from lawsuits filed initially by governmental entities.

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Punitive Damages Now Allowed in Philadelphia Risperdal Suits Per Superior Court Ruling

Janssen Facing Over 6,400 Cases in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

By Mark A. York (January 18, 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(MASS TORT NEXUS MEDIA) Plaintiffs in the Risperdal litigation, may now seek punitive damages under a recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.  Previously, plaintiffs were prevented from seeking punitive damages because the laws of New Jersey, applied to the Risperdal cases filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, see Risperdal Re: Janssen: Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Johnson & Johnson is headquartered in New Jersey, with the courts previously applying those laws which barred punitive damages.

More than 6,000 Risperdal lawsuits in the Philadelphia docket allege Risperdal caused young men and boys to develop a condition called gynecomastia, where female breasts develop in male patients, with J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals failing to warn about the risk.

The three-judge Superior Court panel ruled on January 9, 2018, that plaintiffs in the Philadelphia cases may apply the law of their home state to seek punitive damages, which opens up an entirely new legal avenue for plaintiffs.

Johnson & Johnson stated they were “disappointed in the ruling” and will be considering all options moving forward, while plaintiff counsel commented “This is something we’ve been right about from the beginning and maybe now, once and for all, J&J will recognize they’re facing punitive damages.”

Now that there is a threat of punitive damages, J&J will have to determine long term case strategy, as the punitive awards against J&J in 2016 – 2017 in other mass torts amounted to over eight hundred million dollars, and plaintiffs’ attorneys hope J&J will consider settling the remaining cases.

Plaintiffs have filed more than 6,400 product liability cases resulting from the use of anti-psychotic drug Risperdal in the complex litigation docket of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Plaintiff lead counsel, Tom Kline of Kline & Specter in Philadelphia, says “stakes in these cases will be raised now that the prospect of punitive damages is in play.”

On Jan. 8, Superior Court Judges Jack A. Panella, Alice Beck Dubow and Kate Ford Elliott ruled that plaintiffs in the Philadelphia-based Risperdal litigation may apply the respective laws of their home states to attempt to obtain punitive damages from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the developer of Risperdal and a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

“This is a pivotal decision in the Risperdal litigation. The Court found that the trial evidence justified the verdict in plaintiff’s favor. In addition, the stakes in any mass tort are raised when punitive damages are recoverable. This thoughtful and thorough opinion will now provide guidance for the entire litigation moving forward,” Kline said.

J&J and Janssen official statement is “We are disappointed in the Court’s ruling and will consider our options going forward. Contrary to the impression plaintiffs’ attorneys have attempted to create over the course of this litigation, Risperdal (risperidone) is an important FDA-approved medicine that, when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, continues to help millions of patients with mental illnesses and neurodevelopmental conditions,” there was no comment released by Janssen defense counsel.

Currently, most of the 6,400 lawsuits based in the Philadelphia Risperdal docket have been filed by out-of-state plaintiffs, who assert Risperdal causes young males to contract gynecomastia, or the development of female breast tissue, and that Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn of these side effects from the drug.

The Superior Court’s new ruling applies across-the-board, as even plaintiffs who have previously received jury verdicts in Risperdal litigation, can now petition the court for new trials or request hearings to enhance verdict awards by adding punitive damages. One prior jury verdict was for more than $70 million and plaintiffs can now request additional punitive damages be awarded.

Before this ruling, seeking of punitive damages in Risperdal cases was prohibited according to New Jersey state law – because Johnson & Johnson is headquartered there.

The ruling on Risperdal punitive damages started when Johnson & Johnson appealed the Stange vs. Janssen Pharmaceuticals verdict; where Wisconsin plaintiff Timothy Stange asserted an inadequate warning of developing gynecomastia from taking Risperdal.

Mr. Stange used Risperdal for three years during his childhood, for treatment of Tourette’s syndrome, and at the close of the trial, a Philadelphia jury awarded him $500,000, and the recent Superior Court ruling has now upheld plaintiff arguments that an inadequate warning of the gynecomastia risks directly caused his injuries.

According to reports from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, of the suits filed in the first 3 months of 2017, about 80 percent of cases in the Complex Litigation docket, came from out-of-state plaintiffs. With this recent ruling, it would seem logical that the number of Risperdal lawsuits filed in the Philadelphia court, may increase dramatically as the potential verdict award amounts have just risen to unknown numbers at this point.

One explanation for the surge in Risperdal filings can be directed toward defendants Johnson & Johnson, when they decided to cancel tolling agreements on thousands of cases. Knowing this strategy would increase the number of cases filed and the burden on the Court.

Tolling agreements pause the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit, and J&J actions seem to indicate that they wanted more lawsuits, not less, with J&J deciding to cancel the agreement after the $77 million verdict.

To date, eight Risperdal case have gone to trial in Philadelphia, with four juries ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, and J&J getting the other four cases dismissed.

The first case to trial, filed by Austin Pledger of Alabama was heard in 2012, with the jury siding with Pledger, finding J&J and Janssen failed to warn the drug could cause gynecomastia, and the jury awarded $2.5 million to Mr. Pledger.

After two more verdicts of $500,000 and $1.75 million were awarded to plaintiffs, in 2016 a Philadelphia jury handed a landmark verdict of $70 million to Andrew Yount of Tennessee, with. Judge Paula Patrick adding nearly $7 million in additional damages over intentional delays during the legal proceedings.

With the new rules regarding punitive damage,  including permitting retroactive claims by successful plaintiffs to now request punitives, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals may need to rethink their long term case strategy, as having a punitive sword hanging over the 6,400 plus remaining cases, should cause defense counsel to re-evaluate their position sooner versus later.

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The Week In Mass Torts By Mass Tort Nexus for December 18, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mark York, Mass Tort Nexus Media

(December 21, 2017)

New Jersey Supreme Court Review Reinstatement Of Accutane Experts

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently granted petitions and cross-petitions to appeal a state appellate court’s reversal of expert exclusions in the state’s Accutane multicounty litigation and the reinstatement of 2,076 dismissed cases (In Re:  Accutane Litigation, C-388 September Term 2017, C-329 September Term 2017 and C-390 September Term 2017, N.J. Sup.) See Mass Tort Nexus Accutane Briefcase Accutane New Jersey State Court Litigation.

New Trial Denied in 3rd Xarelto MDL Bellwether Case After Defense Verdict

Judge Eldon Fallon, overseeing the Xarelto multidistrict litigation, recently denied a motion for a new trial by the plaintiff in the third bellwether trial, where Bayer was found not liable in the Dora Mingo trial that took place in a Mississippi federal court in front of Judge Fallon. He ruled that plaintiff was unsuccessful in presenting new findings, among other things, that the plaintiff’s “newly discovered evidence” is actually cumulative of previously known and admitted evidence (In Re:  Xarelto [Rivaroxaban] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2592, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205422). See Mass Tort Xarelto Briefcase for the entire Mingo trial transcripts as well as full transcripts of the Orr and Boudreaux trials, XARELTO MDL 2592 US District Court ED Louisiana Including Trial Transcripts.

 With Last 2 Cases Gone, Pradaxa MDL Judge Again Recommends Termination

With the final two pending cases now closed, the Illinois federal judge overseeing the Pradaxa multidistrict litigation on Dec. 11 again recommended that the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) terminate the MDL (In Re:  Pradaxa [Dabigatran Etexilate]Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2385, No. 12-md-2385, S.D. Ill.).  After a global settlement was reached in 2014 with defendant Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc., the JPMDL suspended the transfer of tag-along actions into the MDL, and now the judge has moved for termination of the Pradaxa MDL. However, there remains over 700 Pradaxa cases pending in the State Court of Connecticut, Complex Litigation Docket, known as “Connecticut Pradaxa Actions”, see Mass Tort Nexus Pradaxa Case Briefcase,  Connecticut Consolidated Pradaxa Litigation.

Boehringer To Pay $13.5M To End Off-Label Marketing Claims

Drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. has agreed to distribute $13.5 million among all 50 states and the District of Columbia to end allegations that it marketed four of its prescription drugs for off-label uses, attorneys general announced Wednesday.
The settlement would resolve allegations that Boehringer marketed its prescription drugs Micardis, Aggrenox, Atrovent and Combivent for uses that weren’t approved by their labels or backed by scientific evidence. (Getty) The settlement, of which New York will receive about $490,000, would resolve allegations that the drugmaker marketed it products for off-label use, which often leads to unknown or studied adverse events and medical complications for patients taking these drugs for unapproved purposes.

 J&J Fined $30 Million Over French Opioid Drug Smear Campaign In Efforts To Sell Fentanyl Patch

France’s antitrust enforcer fined Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen-Cilag unit €25 million ($29.7 million) on Wednesday for hindering the marketing and sale of a generic version of the company’s Durogesic pain patch.The French Competition Authority found that Janssen and J&J had not only successfully delayed a generic competitor for the powerful opioid for several months, but had also done lasting damage by discrediting rival versions of the drug with doctors and pharmacists in a country where medical professionals still remain reluctant to opt for prescribing opioids.  The J&J conduct reflects the same claims being asserted against opioid drug makers in the US, where lawsuits have been consolidate into Opiate Prescription Litigation MDL No. 2804, in the US District Court of Ohio, see Mass Tort Nexus Opioid Crisis Briefcase, OPIOID CRISIS MATERIALS INCLUDING: MDL 2804 OPIATE PRESCRIPTION LITIGATION.

11th Circuit Affirms Pelvic Mesh Group Trial, Exclusion Of 510(k) Status

(October 24, 2017, 1:25 PM EDT) -The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 19 said multidistrict litigation court judge did not err in consolidating four pelvic mesh cases for a bellwether trial and in excluding the so-called 510(k) defense raised by defendant Boston Scientific Corp. (BSC) (Amal Eghnayem, et al. v. Boston Scientific Corporation, No. 16-11818, 11th Cir., 2017)   See Mass Tort Nexus Mesh Case Briefcase, All Pelvic Mesh Litigation Case Files.

Preemption Summary Judgment Reversed By 9th Circuit In Incretin Mimetic MDL Appeal

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 6 unsealed its Nov. 28 opinion reversing summary judgment in the incretin mimetic multidistrict litigation, saying the MDL judge misapplied a U.S. Supreme Court precedent, improperly blocked discovery, misinterpreted what constituted new evidence and improperly disqualified a plaintiff expert (In Re:  Incretin-Based Therapies Products Liability Litigation, Jean Adams, et al. v. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., et al., No. 15-56997, 9th Cir., 2017 )

Pennsylvania Appeals Court Affirms $29.6M Remitted Zimmer Knee Judgment

A Pennsylvania appeals court panel on Dec. 15 said a trial judge did not err when remitting a Zimmer Inc. knee verdict to $29.6 million and said it declined to substitute its judgment in place of the jury’s (Margo Polett, et al. v. Public Communications, Inc., et al., No. 80 EDA 2017, Pa. Super., 2017 Pa. Superior Court)

Risperdal Gynecomastia Cases Barred By Michigan Shield Law, Pennsylvania Panel Says

A Pennsylvania state appeals panel on Nov. 28 affirmed the dismissal of 13 Risperdal gynecomastia cases, agreeing with a trial judge that the plaintiffs’ claims are preempted by Michigan’s drug shield law and that the plaintiffs could not prove that the fraud exception

applied to their claims (In Re:  Risperdal Litigation versus Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., No. 55 EDA 2015, et al., Pennsylvania Court of Appeals, 2017.

U.S. Supreme Court Asks Solicitor General To Weigh In On Fosamax Preemption

The U.S. Supreme Court on has invited the U.S. solicitor general to express the views of the United States on whether there is “clear and convincing evidence” that the Food and Drug Administration would have rejected a stronger warning about femur fractures from the osteoporosis drug Fosamax (Merck Sharpe & Dohme Corp. v. Doris Albrecht, et al., No. 17-290, U.S. Supreme Court)  This is a unique turn when the Supreme Court is seeking input from an outside agency in what is now a common legal issue placed in front of the court, where dug makers are using the FDA regulatory process as a shield in defending thousands of claims where warnings of drug dangers are not clear or not provided. See Mass Tort Nexus Fosamax Case Briefcase, FOSAMAX MDL 2243 (FEMUR FRACTURE CLAIMS).

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PA Superior Court Reverses Risperdal Defense Verdict as Court Strikes Janssen Pharmaceuticals Only Favorable Jury Verdict

“Johnson & Johnson Hit With Another Trial Verdict Reversal”

By Mark York (November 17, 2017)

Mass Tort Nexus

 

 

 

 

 

 

(MASS TORT NEXUS) The Superior Court of Pennsylvania reversed the single defense verdict reached in favor of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. The reversal and order for a new trial stemmed from a 2015 trial that resulted in the one Risperdal defense verdict to date. The case is part of the mass tort docket for Risperdal cases in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, (see RISPERDAL Case No 296 PHILADELPHIA COURT OF COMMON PLEAS BRIEFCASE), where more than 6,000 Risperdal cases are pending.

The 22-page unanimous Superior Court decision by Judge Jack Panella, reversed the Janssen defense win in the Risperdal trial where plaintiff William Cirba filed suit against Janssen Pharmaceuticals and lost, as well the subsequent denial of Mr. Cirba’s request for a retrial based on “erroneous evidentiary rulings.”

The ruling ordered a new trial and will now be limited to the issues of causation and damages.

LAYPERSON AT TRIAL IS NOT AN EXPERT

The Superior Court stated the trial court made a reversible error at trial, by allowing physician’s assistant Michelle Baker’s testimony to be weighed on the same level as that of a medical expert. Ms. Baker was involved in the treatment of Mr. Cirba from 2005 to 2013, as a physician’s assistant.

During the Cirba trial, a videotaped deposition from Baker was played in which she stated an opinion that Cirba’s gynecomastia (the development of breast tissue) was the result of “extreme weight gain” rather than negative side effects from Risperdal. Cirba had been prescribed the drug to treat oppositional defiant disorder.

Cirba’s counsel objected that it was improper that Baker’s layperson testimony was considered equal to that of an expert, since she was not designated or qualified prior to trial – while the defense believed Baker’s deposition did not cross over into expert testimony and “constituted permissible lay opinion testimony, as it was rationally based on her perception of plaintiff during treatment.” Which the Superior Court has obviously disagreed with.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of Janssen in March 2015, although the jury at that time believed Janssen failed to properly warn Cirba’s physicians of gynecomastia risks associated with Risperdal, it stopped short of finding Janssen negligent in directly causing Cirba’s gynecomastia.

The Superior Court sided with the plaintiff in believing admitting Baker’s testimony was an attempt to enter the realm of expert knowledge.

Defendants’ experts opined that weight gain rather than Risperdal ingestion caused plaintiff to appear to have gynecomastia. Baker’s testimony, in which she opined that plaintiff’s weight gain, rather than his Risperdal usage, caused him to appear to have gynecomastia, was causation testimony offered by a witness who personally treated the plaintiff” Panella said.

Panella added Baker’s opinion was “offered without the proper vetting and safeguards surrounding expert testimony.”

“Further, this opinion was introduced into evidence due to the trial court’s improper application of the law, which is clearly an abuse of discretion. Therefore, we find that the trial court abused its discretion in denying plaintiff’s request for a new trial, limited to the issues of causation and damages,” the panel stated, in reversing the judgment and remanding the case for further proceedings.

SAME PANEL STRIKES RISPERDAL SOL CLAIMS

In a separate 18-page ruling also issued Nov. 13, the exact same three-judge panel upheld the trial court’s striking down of arguments that the statute of limitations in two Risperdal cases, featuring plaintiffs Jonathan Saksek and Joshua Winter, should have been tolled until 2013.

Saksek and Winter were prescribed Risperdal in 1997 and 1998, allegedly began developing gynecomastia in 1998 and 2002, respectively, but didn’t file suit until 2014. Both plaintiffs brought suit after seeing television advertising connected to Risperdal litigation in 2013.

The defense agreed with the trial court that the statute of limitations mandated the grant of summary judgment, but contended if the discovery rule applied, it would have only tolled the statute of limitations until October 2006, when Risperdal’s prescribing label was changed to include a warning about gynecomastia.

In January 2015, Judge Arnold New granted a defense motion for summary judgment and ruled an applicable statute of limitations applied to both Saksek and Winter’s cases, feeling that they should have known of Risperdal’s gynecomastia-related injury risks by June 30, 2009.

Both plaintiffs appealed, and the appeals were consolidated, but the higher court agreed with the trial court.

“Plaintiffs were aware of their injuries when they began experiencing unexplained weight gain – and breast growth – after starting Risperdal treatment in 1998 and 2002. However, from 1998 and 2002 until 2013, when plaintiffs were notified of the commercial claiming a link between gynecomastia and Risperdal, they did nothing to uncover the cause of their unexplained breast growth and weight gain. Plaintiff cannot hope to establish that they acted with reasonable diligence, when they admit that they failed to act at all,” Panella stated.

Their breasts were there, and had been there, for years. And then, in October 2006, the label on Risperdal changed, expressly linking usage of the drug to gynecomastia. Their breasts were clearly not temporary by 2006. Accordingly, by that date, ‘reasonable minds would not differ in finding that’ plaintiffs knew, or should have known, of their injuries and the cause of those injuries by this point,” Panella added.

RULING AFFECTS OTHER CASES

Kline commented on the Superior Court’s statute of limitations ruling, indicating it could be far-reaching beyond merely the instant cases.

“We believe [this] harsh ruling, which may bar the claims of thousands of claimants who could not possibly have known of their gynecomastia injury and its cause, is legally and factually wrong. We plan to appeal further, seeking to reopen the courthouse doors to them,” Kline said.

Janssen’s stated:  “We are pleased the Superior Court affirmed Judge New’s ruling on the application of statute of limitations.

MASS TORT DOCKET GROWING

More than 6,400 Risperdal lawsuits – most from out-of-state plaintiffs – will be handled in Philadelphia’s Complex Litigation Center. The CLC has several mass tort programs, including cases over Xarelto  (See Case No. 2349 in Philadephia Court of Common Pleas – Complex Litigation PA State Court) and asbestos, and the percentage of claims belonging to out-of-state plaintiffs has traditionally been in the high 80s. In 2016, the percentage for pharmaceutical lawsuits dropped to 74 percent.

However, in 2017, the most recent CLC stats show that figure has jumped to an unprecedented 94 percent.

Appeal Docket: Superior Court of Pennsylvania case 2451 EDA 2015 & 576 EDA 2015

Trial Docket: Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 130301803, 140200183 & 140301170

 

 

 

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XARELTO in Philadelphia Court: Will The BMSQ “California Plavix” SCOTUS Ruling Affect Out of State Plaintiffs?

XARELTO in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas: Will The “California Plavix” Supreme Court Ruling Affect Out of State Plaintiffs?

By Mark A. York

Mass Tort Nexus (September 26, 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

Bayer, which has a headquarters in Pennsylvania, recently used a June 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision on out of state plaintiffs and court jurisdictions to dismiss dozens of lawsuits from a Missouri federal court in the “Essure” birth control litigation. It remains to be seen if Bayer will use the same strategy in other jurisdictions, like Philadelphia, where the Xarelto blood thinner cases are piling up, see XARELTO Case No. 2349 in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Briefcase.

Thousands of out-of-state plaintiffs flocked to Philadelphia recently to file lawsuits over prescription drugs, but a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision might deter that practice in the future, see  June 19, 2017 Bristol-Myers v. Superior Court of California (Plavix Jurisdiction).

The many claimants who have brought their lawsuits in Philadelphia will have to see if pharmaceutical companies like Bayer, Johnson & Johnson and others who are facing many thousands of other claims from out-of-state plaintiffs, will rely on the June 19th U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states an out-of-state plaintiff couldn’t file suit in California, due to a lack of jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court justices ruled 8-1 in favor of Bristol Myers-Squibb after the company argued plaintiffs living outside California who alleged injury from BMS’s blood thinner Plavix, should not be able to sue the company in that state.

The Supreme Court ruled that, essentially the “all inclusive view of personal jurisdiction by non-resident plaintiffs has come to an end.” Plavix was not designed or made in California, and the company is headquartered in New York. The ruling may simply force thousands of pending cases across the country to be refiled in other venues, as plaintiff firms are not likely to simply withdraw the cases as massive losses, without having their day in one court or another.

A non-residents plaintiff can file suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, if the defendant is either incorporated in Pennsylvania, or has a principal place of business in Pennsylvania, which limits the legal options for Bayer, based on their corporate headquarters in the state.

Two of the biggest mass tort programs in the Philadelphia Complex Litigation Center docket are the Risperdal litigation, which is produced by Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary) and allegedly causes males to develop breasts, Janssen has been hit with several large multi-million dollar verdicts in Risperdal trials. The other is Xarelto, a blood-thinner made by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson that allegedly causes uncontrolled bleeding events, and the makers failed to warn of the dangers. The Xarelto MDL 2592 in US district Court ED Louisiana . see Xarelto MDL 2592 Mass Tort Nexus Briefcase, where close to twenty thousand additional Xarelto cases are pending.

Bayer will be having a much harder time using the BMS Plavix decision to dismiss non-resident plaintiffs from the Philadelphia courtroom, given it’s headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal Behind Massive Spike in Mass Tort Litigation

Risperdal-V2-headerBy Anjelica Cappellino. This article is reprinted from The Expert Institute.

There has been a huge spike in mass tort litigation due to the Johnson & Johnson medication, Risperdal, an anti-psychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. Risperdal has been the center of litigation for years due to allegations that the drug causes breast tissue growth in young men, a condition called gynecomastia. This past year, however, Risperdal has accounted for over a third of all mass tort lawsuits pending in the Philadelphia Complex Litigation Center. Mostly comprised of individual suits rather than class actions, the verdicts may differ greatly, depending upon the evidence presented in each case. Due to the scientific and medical nature of the drug’s effects, experts in the field may strongly impact the verdict.

Risperdal’s Litigation History and Current Lawsuits

Risperdal has received a significant amount of attention dating back to 1994, when the drug first went on the market and Johnson & Johnson was accused of illegal marketing activities. In one of the largest health care fraud settlements in United States history, Johnson & Johnson was forced to pay more than $2 billion in penalties and settlements to state and government entities as a result of lawsuits relating to Risperdal and two other drugs, as well as civil and criminal complaints about their use. The Department of Justice stated Risperdal and two other Johnson & Johnson drugs were promoted for dementia patients, when Risperdal was approved only to treat schizophrenia. The Food and Drug Administration did not approve this use as safe and effective.

Deceptive marking actions are not the only claims against Risperdal.  The largest cause of action against the drug is that it causes men to develop gynecomastia. This breast development can have devastating and long-term effects on young men. At least 13,000 product liability claims involving Risperdal have been filed in courts around the United States, alleging that Johnson & Johnson was aware that the medication could cause gynecomastia, but concealed that information to the public.

Most of the current litigation is pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court and the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania, where a small group of cases went to trial as part of a bellwether trial process. In February 2015, in one of the first cases to go to trial, a Pennsylvania jury awarded $2.5 million in damages to a 20-year old male plaintiff who had been using Risperdal since he was eight years old. A month later at the second trial, the plaintiff was not awarded any damages after a jury concluded that there was insufficient evidence that Risperdal caused his breast growth. However, the jury did find that the company provided inadequate safety warnings. In November of that same year, a separate jury in the same court awarded $1.75 million to another Risperdal user who developed breasts after taking the drug since age five. In July 2016, the largest award in Philadelphia Risperdal litigation was reached. A jury awarded a Tennessee teenager $70 million in damages after finding that Johnson & Johnson officials failed to warn the young man and his family that the drug could cause him to grow breasts. Most recently, in January 2017, Johnson & Johnson entered into a pre-trial settlement days before another Philadelphia trial, a case which would have been the seventh trial about Risperdal’s link to gynecomastia.

With more than 2,000 cases pending in the Complex Litigation Center of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, and another 300 cases pending in Los Angeles Superior Court, litigation is far from over. The total number of mass tort cases pending in Philadelphia’s Complex Litigation Center at the beginning of 2017 has risen to its highest level in more than five years. Risperdal accounts for the second largest percentage of cases, making up more than 31 percent of Philadelphia’s mass tort docket. In 2016, there were 550 pending Risperdal cases, a 40 percent increase from the previous year.

How Have the Experts Weighed in?

Since the inception of the first lawsuit, expert witnesses were vital to the outcome of the case. David Kessler, a pediatrician and former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, has been a vocal expert witness in the Risperdal litigation. Since 2012, Kessler has offered his expert services to plaintiffs as both a pediatrician and failure-to-warn expert, writing detailed reports about Johnson & Johnson’s promotion of Risperdal for non-approved uses in children. In 2015, Kessler testified in a Philadelphia trial that Johnson & Johnson knew as early as 2001 that Risperdal could cause gynecomastia in boys, five years before the company adding a warning about such a side effect on its label. The crux of most Risperdal cases is whether the company adequately warned the plaintiff of the drug’s side effects. Therefore, expert testimony like Kessler’s is indispensable in establishing that Risperdal did not contain adequate warnings of its possible side effects.

As plaintiffs often begin taking Risperdal in their youth, pediatricians have served as vital expert witnesses in explaining the effects of the drug on young males. Pediatric neurologists and endocrinologists have testified to explain how the drug affects the hormone levels and nervous system. Specifically, the drug stimulates the pituitary gland and elevates levels of prolactin, a hormone that is related to female breast development and lactation in nursing mothers.

In addition to Risperdal’s long-term effects on young men, the causal link between Risperdal and gynecomastia must also be established. As David Kessler previously testified in January 2015, he concludes that there is a connection. Kessler has pointed to a clinical trial, funded by Johnson & Johnson, that showed 3.8% of young males using Risperdal developed breasts. Kessler testified that the medication “probably or very likely” triggered the condition. Because gynecomastia is caused by elevated amounts of prolactin, experts have testified that if children’s levels of prolactin are monitored while on the medication, the development of gynecomastia can be more easily recognized, opposed to incorrectly attributing the side effects to weight gain.

In light of the growing mass tort litigation, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is scheduled to convene a meeting on March 9, 2017 concerning its centralized docket of Risperdal claims. Although several plaintiffs have reached confidential settlements prior to trial thus far, there are thousands of cases that are still pending and there are no signs that litigation will slow down in 2017.

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Janssen Settles Latest Risperdal Case Before Trial in Philadelphia

Risperdal causes gynecomastia, or enlarged breasts, in men.
Risperdal causes gynecomastia, or enlarged breasts, in men.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. settled the lawsuit of a New York boy who took the antipsychotic drug Risperdal and grew female breasts, just before the case was to go on trial in  Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, according to Law360.

The case is Zachary Sabol et al. v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. et al., case number 130402100, and the settlement amount was not disclosed. It would have been the seventh trial in Philadelphia’s mass tort program, where 2,300 cases are pending against the drug maker.

The plaintiff and his family filed suit against Janssen in 2013 charging that he developed gynecomastia, or the abnormal growth of female breast tissue, after being treated with Risperdal for nearly a decade.

The FDA approved Riserdal in 2006 for treating autism in adolescents. When Sabol began taking the drug, however, it was only approved for use in adults and indicated that gynecomastia was a rare side effect that occurred in fewer than one in 1,000 patients. Warning labels were later updated to show there was a 2.3 percent rate of gynecomastia in adolescents taking the drug.

The litigation has continued for three years in Philadelphia. Another 16,000 case are consolidated in California Superior Court in Los Angeles with the first trials set for July.  Three earlier trials have resulted in verdicts in favor of the injured plaintiff in the amount of $2.5 Million, $1.75 Million, and $500,000.  In all the trials, juries have found that J&J failed to adequately warn of the risks of gynecomastia.

Recent Headlines in Risperdal:

Infographic: The Disgraceful History of Risperdal

New Judge Knocks Out Plaintiff’s Expert, Abruptly Dismisses Risperdal Case

Plaintiffs Settle Risperdal Case with Johnson & Johnson in Philadelphia Court

Philly Judge Adds $6.66 Million Delay Interest to $70M Risperdal Verdict

Kentucky AG Settles Risperdal and OxyContin False Marketing Cases for $39.5 Million

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New Judge Knocks Out Plaintiff’s Expert, Abruptly Dismisses Risperdal Case

Dr. Mark P. Solomon, a plastic surgeon in Bala Cynwyd, PA.
Expert witness Dr. Mark P. Solomon, a plastic surgeon in Bala Cynwyd, PA.

On the 11th day of a trial on whether Risperdal caused a young man to grow female breasts, a Philadelphia judge who is new to the mass torts litigation, rejected the expert testimony of a physician who has testified in nearly all the Risperal cases, and dismissed the case.

The ruling was shocking, in light of the $70 million verdict returned on July 8, 2016, by a jury also in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas that the antipsychotic drug caused a Tennessee boy to grow female breasts. That case was heard before Judge Paula Patrick.  The verdict followed other plaintiff successes, totaling $4.75 million, that plaintiffs have recovered so far in earlier Risperdal cases.

The expert — Dr. Mark P. Solomon — has testified for the plaintiffs since a $2.5 million verdict was returned in Feb. 2014, in favor of the plaintiff, Austin Pledger, who took Risperdal for autism and developed enlarged breasts, or gynecomastia, from taking the drug.

“Legally insufficient”

Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin in Houston, TX.
Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin in Houston, TX.

In the latest case, Moroni  v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., case number 130501076, state judge Sean Kennedy ruled, “At the conclusion of my research and my staff’s research, it is my opinion that under Texas law, Dr. Solomon’s testimony is legally insufficient to prove causation in this case, and as such, I am granting defendant’s motion for compulsory nonsuit.”

According to the motion for nonsuit filed by Janssen, Dr. Solomon based his opinion solely on reviewing a photo of the plaintiff. Dr. Soloman practices in, among other things, male breast reduction.

“The court’s ruling was totally unexpected in a case which had more than sufficient expert support under the governing law,” said plaintiff attorney Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin LLP said in a statement. “We are confident that the erroneous ruling will be reversed, and our client, Tommy Moroni, will be heard by a jury on another day.”

Moroni’s case was the sixth to go to trial in Philadelphia’s Risperdal mass tort program, which consists of about 2,000 cases.

Plaintiff Tommy Moroni started taking the powerful antipsychotic as a 7-year-old boy living in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 2004 to treat ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. He took the drug for four years, but then a doctor diagnosed him with gynecomastia in Nov. 2010.

The litigation has continued for three years in Philadelphia. Another 16,000 case are consolidated in California Superior Court in Los Angeles with the first trials set for July.  Three earlier trials have resulted in verdicts in favor of the injured plaintiff in the amount of $2.5 Million, $1.75 Million, and $500,000.  In all the trials, juries have found that J&J failed to adequately warn of the risks of gynecomastia.

 

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