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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WEEKLY MDL UPDATE by MASS TORT NEXUS for Week of November 13, 2017

The week in mass torts around the country:

By Mark York, Mass Tort Nexus (November 16, 2017)

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MASS TORT NEXUS

 Verdicts on November 16, 2017: 

J&J gets hit hard again, in a $247 million Pinnacle hip implant verdict, DePuy Orthopaedics Pinnacle Implant MDL 2244, in bellwether trial of 3:15-cv-03489 Alicea et al v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc et al. (DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant MDL 2244 Briefcase)

Drug maker Auxilium won a defense verdict in their Testim product bellwether trial, where plaintiffs claimed it caused a heart attack in a verdict reached in the US District Court Northern District of Illinois, Judge Kennelly, in MDL 2545 Testosterone Replacement Therapy. (Testosterone Therapy MDL 2545 USDC ND Illinois)

Johnson & Johnson Wins a Defense Verdict in Los Angeles Court Talcum Powder Mesothelioma Trial, Jury Finds J&J Not Liable in Tina Herford et al. v. Johnson & Johnson Case number BC646315, consolidated in LAOSD Asbestos Cases, case number JCCP4674, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.  (J&J Talcum Powder Cancer Litigation Briefcase)

Senator Bob Menendez  judge declares a mistrial in New Jersey federal court trial, after a hung jury cannot agree unanimously on charges. Question is- Are the Senator and his doctor friend in Florida, just that-were they just friends or was there active bribery taking place?

Recent Case Updates:

>Plaintiff in DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant Trial Asks Texas Jury For A Hundred Million + In Punitive Damages

At the close of arguments in the latest DePuy MDL 2244 trial on Monday November 13, 2017, six New York plaintiffs asked a Texas federal jury to hit Johnson & Johnson and it’s DePuy subsidiary, with at least a nine-figure punitive damages award. Attorneys asked that J&J and DePuy be punished for making and marketing their Pinnacle model hip implants, an alleged defective line of metal-on-metal hip implants, that have caused many thousands of injuries to unsuspecting patients. If this jury follows suit on prior Pinnacle bellwether jury awards, then J&J and DePuy should be ready for a massive verdict, as the last jury awarded California plaintiffs over one billion dollars in December 2016, sending a clear message that the company’s Pinnacle design and subsequent marketing policies have failed.

METALLSOIS DAMAGE

Closing arguments wrapped up on the two-month bellwether trial, where plaintiffs claimed they suffered “metallosis” which caused tissue damage and negative reactions to the Pinnacle Ultamet line of metal-on-metal hip implants made by J&J’s DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. unit. Depending on the jury verdict, perhaps J&J will consider coming to the settlement table if another massive verdict is awarded, or they may continue the aggressive “we’ve done no wrong stance” resulting in more plaintiff verdicts in the future..

 >Travelers Insurance Wins Declaratory Judgment Suit Over Defense Coverage In Orange County and Chicago Opioid Lawsuits:

“California Appeals court says Watson not covered”

Watson Pharma, Inc. and it’s parent Activis, Inc. were denied insurance coverage in a November 6, 2017 ruling by the California State Court of Appeals in the 2014 Declaratory Judgment action filed by Travelers Insurance in an Orange County, CA court where Travelers successfully asserted claims that they were not required to defend or indemnify Watson in the underlying opioid based litigation filed by Santa Clara and Orange County against opioid manufacturers, due to Watson’s “intentional bad conduct” in their business practices related to sales and marketing of it’s opioid products. The Appeals Court also excluded Watson’s coverage in a similar opioid lawsuit against them in a Chicago, Illinois federal case where the City of Chicago filed similar claims against Watson over opioid marketing abuses in 2014. Perhaps other insurance carrier will take notice and look closer at denying policy coverage for many other opioid manufacturers who have been sued across the country in cases with almost the exact claims as those alleged by Santa Clara County and the City of Chicago.

>NEW XARELTO TRIAL:

Former FDA Commissioner Testifies in Philadelphia Xarelto Trial-

“Xarelto Warnings Are Inadequate”

— Former head of the Food and Drug Administration, Commissioner David Kessler testified during the first state court trial in Philadelphia, telling the jury on Tuesday that “warning labels for the blood thinner Xarelto failed to provide adequate information to doctors and consumers about the risk of bleeding that some patients could face when using the drug”.

David Kessler, FDA Commissioner under President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton, told jurors that Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson’s warning labels for the medication understated the risk of significant bleeding events that had been seen in television and print ads across the country for years, and failed to disclose the true risks associated with prescribing the blockbuster drug. This trial, expected to take six weeks, is the first state court bellwether trial for the blood thinner Xarelto, in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the prior trials took place in federal courts in Louisiana and Mississippi where the defense prevailed in all 3 trials earlier this year. Those trials were all bellwether trials, as part of the Xarelto MDL 2592 in front of Judge Eldon Fallon, US District Court, ED Louisiana. Will the change of venue to Pennsylvania State Court have a different outcome than the three prior Xeralto trial losses?

>Luzerene County, Pennsylvania Files RICO Suit Over Opioid Marketing Against Drug Makers

Luzerne County in Northeast Pennsylvania has filed a federal RICO based lawsuit accusing pharmaceutical companies including Purdue, Pharma, Endo, Janssen and Teva of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by illegally marketing highly addictive painkillers that have contributed to a costly national opioid epidemic. The suit filed in US district Court of Pennsylvania by Luzerne County is one of many cases opioid drugmakers and distributors are facing as state and local governments seek to recoup costs they’ve incurred in the increased marketing and prescribing of opioid painkillers, and the resultant spikes in addiction and overdose.

OPIOID MARKETING ABUSES

“The manufacturers aggressively pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids, falsely representing to doctors that patients would only rarely succumb to drug addiction,” the complaint, which was filed on Wednesday, said. “These pharmaceutical companies … turned patients into drug addicts for their own corporate profit.”
“The lawsuit accused the drugmakers of using false and deceptive marketing practices over the course of the last two decades, including pushing the opioid painkillers for treatment of chronic pain, to boost prescriptions for the drugs

COMMON CLAIMS AGAINST ALL OPIOiD MAKERS

Among the companies’ primary claims, cited by Luzerne county and others, evidence the manufacturers intentionally misled consumers, was that the drugs were not addictive when prescribed to treat legitimate pain. This is one of the key claims used by all parties filing suit against the opioid manufacturers, across the entire country.

Case heading is: Luzerne County v. Purdue Pharma LP et al., case number 3:17-cv-2043, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

>Opioid Litigation Roundup: An Overview Of Recently Filed Cases and MDL 2804

In addition to the many counties and other communities from across the country that have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers in MDL 2802, set for a JPML consolidation hearing November 30, 2017 a new group of plaintiffs have joined the increasing pool of parties filing suit against Big Pharma opioid manufacturers and their distributors. Unions are now joining in the suits alleging that the business practices of the opioid makers and distributors caused catastrophic healthcare and related labor problems everywhere in the country over the last 15 years. Locals from the Electrical Workers; Commercial Food Service and Teamsters are now plaintiffs in the MDL 2804, which if approved at the upcoming JPML hearings in St Louis, will probably cause a flood of additional filings by unions across the country.

State attorneys general, a Native American tribe and individual consumers are among the ever increasing pool of plaintiffs who’ve brought lawsuits against drugmakers, pharmacies and distributors allegedly responsible for epidemic levels of opioid abuse. As word spreads among the network of local governments, and discussion take place about the municipal opioid lawsuits being filed, there will be a flood of new complaints filed, that will match or exceed the number of cases filed in the massive “Tobacco Litigation” which is quickly gaining comparison as the opioid case filings are looking to be comparable in size and probably exceed the tobacco litigation in damages.

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California Appeals Court Denies Insurance Coverage For Opioid Drug Makers Defense: Will other insurers say no to opioid coverage?

Profits over Patients Continues”

Mark York (November 15, 2017)

Mass Tort Nexus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(MASS TORT NEXUS)  On November 6, 2017 California’s Court of Appeals, Fourth Appellate District, ruled that Travelers Property Casualty does not have a duty to defend or indemnify Watson Pharmaceuticals (Activis, Inc), in a long running opioid related lawsuit based in Orange County Superior Court, as well as a second opioid related suit in Chicago.

TRAVELERS FILES DECLARATORY COMPLAINT

Watson Pharmaceuticals aka Activis, Inc., along with several other opioid manufacturers, were sued by two California counties and the city of Chicago in 2014. The claimants were seeking redress for costs related to the opioid epidemic in their respective communities. Travelers denied Watson’s demand to pay for its defense and subsequently brought a lawsuit against the drug company. Travelers filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment requesting the court declare that insurance coverage or indemnification of Watson-Activis under policies issued to Watson.

The California Court of Appeal detailed in its 31-page ruling that the policy covers damages for bodily injuries caused by an accident, and that the actions of Watson-Activis were intentional and not subject to policy coverage.

OPINION CLEARLY DENIES COVERAGE

“The California action and the Chicago action do not create a potential liability for an accident because they are based, and can only be read as being based, on the deliberate and intentional conduct of Watson that produced injuries—including a resurgence in heroin use that were neither unexpected nor unforeseen,” Justice Richard Fybel wrote in the ruling.

WATSON CONDUCT IS EXCLUDED

“All of the injuries arose out of Watson’s products or the alleged statements and misrepresentations made about those products, and therefore fall within the product exclusions clause of the policies,” Fybel added.

“The takeaway is that the opioid crisis has gone into the realm of whether there is insurance coverage to pay for some of the costs being incurred by public entities,” commented Larry Golub, a lawyer and partner with Hinshaw & Culbertson who is unattached to the case.

“I think there is a potential for more cases,” Golub told Connecticut Law Tribune. “Big bucks are being spent to deal with the opioids crisis.”

This is the second time Travelers has won a ruling against Watson. In August 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that the insurer did not have to defend Anda, a division of Watson Pharmaceuticals in a West Virginia federal court case over the “prescription drug abuse” crisis in that state. The court based its decision on the exclusions of the company’s insurance policy.

OPINION EXCERPT IN TRAVELERS vs. ANDA-WATSON

Background: Anda is a wholesale pharmaceutical distributor. The State of West Virginia has sued Anda and other pharmaceutical companies in West Virginia state court, requesting an injunction against their distribution practices and seeking compensation for expenses the state alleges it has incurred as a result of the proliferation of “Pill Mills” and the attendant “opioid epidemic.” Further stating “The judgment of the district court is affirmed, and the liability policy coverage for Anda and Watson in the West Virginia opioid suit is denied.”

Will denial of insurance coverage become a trend in the exploding number od lawsuits filed against opioid manufactures, distributors and will Big Pharma finally be forced to admit the wholesale opioid abuse designed in the boardroom and placed into American commerce by any means necessary over the last 20+ years?

 

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JOHNSON & JOHNSON ACCUSED OF WITNESS TAMPERING IN TWO DIFFERENT TRIALS CURRENTLY UNDERWAY

Does Win At Any Cost Apply to J&J Legal Strategy Even At Trial?

By Mark York (November 7, 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

(Mass Tort Nexus)  Federal Judge Edward Kinkeade has requested the US Attorneys Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) open an investigation and question witnesses regarding potential witness tampering in a currently underway DePuy Pinnacle hip implant trial. The trial is taking place in the US District Court of Texas in Dallas. The trial is the third bellwether trial in Multidistrict Litigation No. 2244, where thousands of plaintiffs have filed suit in the DePuy Orthopaedics MDL 2244 Pinnacle Hip Implant Litigation. The last trial resulted in a massive initial verdict of $1 billion, subsequently reduced by Judge Kinkeade to just over $500 million.

DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson, has been sued along with J&J for their metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip devices, due to the release of cobalt and chromium metals into a patient’s body, resulting in the onset of metallosis, pseudotumors, and other adverse medical conditions which require surgery to remove the defective device, as well as ongoing treatment to address the related side effects.

As to J&J’s alleged witness tampering, Judge Kinkeade stated the potential witness tampering was “disturbing and disconcerting to me”. The issue revolves around interaction between am upcoming trial witness Dr. David Shein and a sales representative for DePuy. Dr Shein claims that during a surgical procedure he was warned of business ramifications,  in connection with his planned appearance as a witness during the DePuy Pinnacle trial.

Lead plaintiff trial attorney Mark Lanier noted:

“It is extremely concerning to me when there are requirements under the federal law, as well as state law, that witnesses not be tampered with, that—that it’s a serious felony, that it involves prison time, that it cuts to the core of who we are as a people and what our courts are about”

In the other witness tampering allegation during a current trial, J&J subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals is accused of interfering with a treating physician and witness in the just started Xarelto trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, see XARELTO Case No. 2349 in Philadephia Court of Common Pleas – Complex Litigation (PA State Court). This trial is the first state court Xarelto trial, where plaintiff Lynn Hartman filed suit against Janssen and Bayer over claims that Xarelto caused a major gastrointestinal bleed. The trial start was delayed by word that a meeting took place between a key witness, Dr. Timothy Aldridge, the plaintiff’s treating physician, and a Janssen sales representative.

Hartman’s lawyers said that scheduled testimony from Dr. Aldridge had essentially changed from indicating that Hartman had suffered a gastrointestinal bleed complicated by Xarelto, to denying whether he knew Hartman had suffered from a gastrointestinal bleed and being hostile to Hartman’s attorney.

Janssen claimed the meeting was routine, but opposing counsel claims that this contact, as well as the DePuy Pinnacle trial witness contact show a pattern of interference and a willingness of Johnson & Johnson employees to attempt to influence legal proceedings in ways that are often consider illegal.

In unsuccessful legal maneuvering, J&J requested a gag order to prevent the public from knowing about the DePuy trial witness tampering issue, but the judge denied their request. Prior verdicts against DePuy for Pinnacle Hip Implant cases included jury awards of $1.4 billion and $498 million in the two prior bellwether trials. The Xarelto trial tampering issue is still being reviewed by the court.

 

 

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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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Boston Scientific Pelvic Mesh Cases Removed From Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Based on SCOTUS “Plavix” Ruling

Boston Scientific Mass Tort Mesh Cases Removed From Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Based On Recent Supreme Court  June 2017, Bristol Myers vs. California Superior Court “Plavix” Ruling

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Scientific, Marlborough, MA

By Mark A. York (September 7, 2017)

Plaintiffs who filed suit against Boston Scientific in a Philadelphia court over allegedly defective pelvic mesh, have agreed to have their cases removed from the Pennsylvania Court to other venues based on the June 2017 “Bristol-Myers California Plavix” U.S. Supreme Court opinion.  The Plavix ruling has thrown thousands of non-resident drug and medical device state court cases across the country into turmoil, as the non-resident plaintiffs cannot continue their cases in state courts where they do not reside or the defendant companies are not corporate residents.  This was based on the Supreme Court ruling that stated Bristol-Myers R&D and sales activity in the State of California related to it’s Plavix blood thinner, (see Mass Tort Nexus “Plavix” CA State Court Briefcase) was not enough of a corporate presence to subject them to California state court jurisdiction, resulting in jurisdictional issue across the country for plaintiff firms.

Last month, Boston Scientific filed motions asking the court to remove any cases pending against it in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, citing the Supreme Court’s both the “Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California”, see US Supreme Court Strikes Down State Court Jurisdiction and “BNSF Railway v. Tyrrell”, see SCOTUS Limits What State Court A Corporate Defendant Can Be Sued In.

According to one of the lead attorneys, the parties have agreed to litigate the cases in either Massachusetts, where Boston Scientific has its principal place of business, or in Delaware, it’s state of incorporation.

Kline & Specter attorney Shanin Specter said. “An agreement was reached with Boston Scientific to have the cases heard in a courtroom other than the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, so the cases can move forward and litigate without the jurisdictional issue creating legal issues. Although Boston Scientific’s motion last month sought to remove 94 cases, Specter said only three cases had been moving forward against Boston Scientific with calls placed to Boston Scientific defense counsel Shook, Hardy & Bacon and attorney Joseph Blum seeking comment have not been returned.

Judge New Asked to Reconsider

Last month, Boston Scientific had filed a motion requesting Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Arnold New reconsider his March 2015 decision that the state court had jurisdiction over the mesh cases.  New, who is the supervising judge of Philadelphia’s Complex Litigation Center, issued a one-page order saying Boston Scientific’s motion was moot.

As part of the motion, Boston Scientific had sought to have New’s 2015 ruling vacated to allow for additional arguments on the issue, and allowing defense counsel to begin pleading the removal of thousands of other non-resident plaintiff cases currently in in the court’s complex litigation docket.

Ethicon Mesh Motion for Removal

Another major defendant in over one thousand pelvic mesh mass cases , Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon, has also filed motions recently seeking to have the cases dismissed based the Supreme Court’s recent decisions. Plaintiffs, however, have requested Judge New pend any rulings on these issues, based on the Pennsylvania Superior Court has agreed to consider the matter in a case that is pending before the intermediate court on appeal.

The Supreme Court’s ruling from June 19, 2017 in Bristol-Myers vs. Superior Court of California (see US Supreme Court Denies California State Court Jurisdiction) now seen as the defining game-changing decision, for mass torts in state courts, that has promised to reshape the geography of mass tort litigation across the country. In the ruling, a majority of the Supreme Court determined that plaintiffs suing Bristol-Myers Squibb in California who were not California residents had failed to establish specific jurisdiction over the pharmaceutical giant, since there was no significant link between the claims and Bristol-Myers’ conduct in California. The ruling, according to observers, makes clear that out-of-state plaintiffs can’t sue companies in states where the defendants aren’t considered to be “at home,” or haven’t conducted business directly linked to the claimed injury.

Johnson & Johnson Files For Missouri Removals

Earlier this month, J&J filed a motion in Missouri seeking to dismiss more than 1,300 lawsuits against it over talcum powder, claiming the lawyers had engaged in “blatant forum shopping on a grand scale.” On June 19, 2017 St Louis City Court Judge Rex Burlison declared a mistrial in the fifth talcum powder cancer trial being heard there, which was the afternoon of the SCOTUS “Plavix” ruling, declaring that the opinion earlier that day prevented the trial from moving forward. The trial was reset for October 2017, and the parties are currently arguing the jurisdictional issues of resuming the trial in front of Judge Burlison, see Mistrial Declared in J&J Talc Trial Due to SCOTUS Ruling.

Boston Scientific Argument

In requesting reconsideration regarding the recent Supreme Court decisions, Boston Scientific contends that Pennsylvania state courts no longer have jurisdiction over it. Specifically, the motion said Boston Scientific is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Massachusetts, it does not have sufficient ties to Pennsylvania to render it “at home” in the state, and the plaintiffs are not Pennsylvania residents. The company further says that finding Pennsylvania has jurisdiction simply because the company complies with the state’s business registration statute violates the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution and the now precedent “California Plavix” decision, .

“It is undisputed that Boston Scientific’s principal place of business is Massachusetts while its place of incorporation is Delaware,” the motion said. “Those are the only two jurisdictions where Boston Scientific is so heavily engaged in activity as to render it ‘at home.”

State Court Removal and Refiling Across The Country

The Philadelphia Court of Common Please Complex Litigation Docket appears to be preparing for a departure of many of the thousands of product liability cases, which prior to June 19, 2017 were moving along quite well in the under the direction of Judge Arnold New. State court dockets across the country are now forced to consider the removal of many cases as well as the potential refiling of thousands of cases in the state of incorporation for the medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

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“New Evidence of Johnson & Johnson Bad Conduct Moved LA Jury to Award $417 Million Talc Verdict”

Johnson & Johnson Still Influencing Opinion by Paying Cash to Insiders in Talc Cancer Fight

New Evidence of J&J Bad Conduct Moved LA Jury to Award $417 Million Talc Verdict”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why did California jurors enter a verdict in favor of a cancer stricken plaintiff last week for $417 million in the latest trial over Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) talcum powder and links to ovarian cancer?(see J&J Loses Another Talc Cancer Trial) It seems as if the largest talc cancer trial verdict to date, may have been influenced by new evidence, including an emailed photo that arrived at the start of trial, apparent payments to science industry insiders and a key J&J witness who was sanctioned and discredited for false testimony at a trial in North Carolina, according to one of plaintiffs’ counsel in the case.

The jury, in front of Judge Maren Nelson, Los Angeles Superior Court, (Eva Echeverria vs. Johnson & Johnson, Case No. BC628228), awarded Ms. Echeverria $70 million in non-economic damages and $347 million in punitive damages after finding that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn that its baby powder could cause ovarian cancer. Eva Echeverria was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, and was unable to testify at trial due to her illness.

Thousands of women have brought lawsuits making similar claims, most of which are in California, Missouri and New Jersey. Plaintiffs’ attorney Allen Smith, of The Smith Law Firm, who has tried all six of the previous trials, five of which were in Missouri. A seventh Missouri trial never went to a jury after the judge granted a mistrial, (see J&J Talc Trial Mistrial Declared After SCOTUS Ruling,)  on the day of the California-Plavix state court jurisdictional opinion. The juries hearing cases linking talcum powder to cancer have awarded four prior plaintiffs’ verdicts, totaling over $300 million, with the highest previous verdict being $110 million and all were awarded in Missouri state courts.

Introduction Of Damaging Evidence Against J&J:

Competitor Warning Labels

The California jury award was tied to three new pieces of evidence that other jurors hadn’t heard before, including evidence that baby powder products made by other companies sold at Walmart and Dollar Tree had warnings on the bottles showing the risks of ovarian cancer. Plaintiffs’ lawyers found out about the labels after a client of Ted Meadows, a partner at Beasley, Allen, et al, in Montgomery, AL, one of the trial attorneys, emailed a photo of a product with a warning label to them just before the Los Angeles trial began. “That was very welcome news to us,” Meadows said. “And the way it played out during the trial, I think it was news to J&J.”

Payments To Industry Insiders

Introduction of evidence that two individuals involved in the Cosmetic Industry Review (CIR), which has deemed talcum powder to be safe, which is data J&J has relied on in prior trials, had received payments from Johnson & Johnson for speeches and other engagements. This damaging information was discovered while cross-examining the group’s former director, Alan Andersen, who was a defense witness, and he was forced to disclose the prior unknown financial relationship of the CIR and Johnson & Johnson.

Bad Science

A major blow to J&J’s defense came when a defense witness, Senior Johnson & Johnson epidemiologist, Dr. Douglas Weed, was revealed to have been sanctioned for perjury in another trial in North Carolina, for lying under oath about whether he retained notes to his expert report, which plaintiffs attorneys were able to show.

“J&J presented these unbelievable and non-credible witnesses on an issue that is very important to our case,” Smith said. “Attempts to influence witnesses and alter facts, along with the fact other companies are warning of the cancer link and have been warning for eight to 12 months now. This was new evidence that proved very compelling to the jury as well as a reflection of J&J’s willingness to manipulate the trial process in their favor”, leading many to wonder what else J&J may have done.

In a post trial statement J&J declined to address the specifics of the case, stating: “We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s baby powder. In April, the National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query Editorial Board wrote, ‘The weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.’ We are preparing for additional trials in the U.S. and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s baby powder.”

In response, the Plaintiff team stated “The new evidence that came into the California case could play a role in the next talcum powder trial, which is set for Oct. 16 in Missouri, we certainly think it is evidence that should be presented, and we’ll make every attempt to do so,” Ted Meadows said.

Johnson & Johnson Has Thousands More Talc Trials Waiting

J&J faces thousands more federal lawsuits in the recently consolidated MDL 2738, In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Liability Litigation supervised by US District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the US District Court of New Jersey, in addition, there are the ever growing number of state court cases pending in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware as well as the remaining thousands of cases in the California State Court consolidation, which are captioned Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder, Case No. JCCP4872.

Evidence of Johnson & Johnson and misconduct both inside and outside the courtroom can do nothing to further prove their continued claims of “no connection between ovarian cancer and use of J&J talcum powder products”, except provide juries with information which will continue to cause massive plaintiff verdicts to be entered across the country as more damaging evidence against J&J comes to light and is introduced at trials.

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Johnson & Johnson Loses Again In First California Talc-Cancer Trial As Jury Awards Plaintiff $417 million

J&J’s Loses Again In First California Talc-Cancer Trial As Jury Award Plaintiffs $417 million

  • Los Angeles jurors decide Johnson & Johnson failed to warn about risks
  • The Eva Echeverria trial is first of 300 cases in California alleging ovarian cancer

“Eva Echeverria v. Johnson & Johnson, number BC628228, in the Superior Court of California for Los Angeles County”

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) found out earlier today, August 21, 2017 that California is no friendlier than Missouri when fighting allegations that its talc powder causes ovarian cancer in women, as a Los Angeles Superior Court awards plaintiff Eva Echeverria $417 million after 3 days of deliberations.

J&J has lost four out of five recent talc cases that went to trial in St. Louis, and is the first trial before a jury in Los Angeles, and is the first case to go to a state-court jury outside Missouri and one of more than 300 similar cases pending in California. This trial follows the US Supreme Court ruling in June 2017 that made it harder for mass tort lawyers to try cases in St. Louis and other cities that have been a destination of choice for litigation against companies that do business nationwide.

The jury verdict shows that J&J is liable for failing to warn Eva Echeverria, 62, about the alleged cancer risks of using its talcum products, which she started using when was 11. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. The Monday morning verdict followed last Wednesday’s closing arguments, with the California jury deliberations coinciding with J&J’s jury trial in the Xarelto blood thinner Mississippi federal trial, which resulted in a defense verdict for J&J on August 18, 2017.  J&J was hoping the Mississippi Xarelto jury verdict was a precursor to the California Talc verdict, which it was not. Ms. Echeverria’s case was chosen as the first bellwether trial due to the onset of final stage ovarian cancer and her failing health, with doubts in some circles that she may not have survived until the trial start.

There are more than 4,800  Talc claims in federal and state U.S. courts accusing J&J, the world’s largest health-care company, of ignoring studies linking its baby powder and Shower to Shower talc products to ovarian cancer and failing to warn customers about the risk, with cases pending in Missouri, New Jersey and California.

In June, the Missouri judge halted the Talc trial there mid-trial in St. Louis, following a U.S. Supreme Court decision, earlier in the day limiting out-of-state plaintiffs joining lawsuits in state court, in the Bristol-Myers (Plavix) state court jurisdictional ruling, Bristol Myers California Plavix Ruling.  Up to then, J&J had been hit with verdicts as high as $110 million by Missouri juries, a favored location for Talc litigation, totaling more than $300 million and J&J, a New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company is appealing these verdicts.

J&J claims the plaintiffs’ allegations aren’t supported by scientific evidence, pointing to a New Jersey state court decision last year tossing out two cases set for trial, due to lack of expert witness supporting evidence.  That judge found evidence linking talc to ovarian cancer was inadequate, however, J&J just happens to be a New jersey based corporation.

The case is Eva Echeverria v. Johnson & Johnson, BC628228, Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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J&J Talcum Powder Cancer Trial Update: California State Court Jury Hears from Plaintiff Eva Echeverria’s Epidemiology Expert

“Plaintiff Eva Evecherria’s Case Selected For First Trial Due to Onset of End Stage Terminal Ovarian Cancer”

Is Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Dangerous?

Plaintiff Eva Echeverria, whose case was selected for California’s bellwether trial, due to her declining health caused by ovarian cancer, continued to present evidence last week in Los Angeles Superior Court. (see Eva Echeverria vs J&J Talc Trial CA State Court ), and there are additional cases against J&J in Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Cases, No. JCCP4872.

On Friday, jurors heard from a Canadian epidemiology expert who was called to offer his opinions on studies linking talc-based powders to ovarian cancer.

Among other things, Jack Siemiatycki, an epidemiologist with the University of Montreal and McGill University, discussed his contributions to the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s 2006 monograph that deemed talc a possible human carcinogen. According to Law360.com, he also testified that his stance has changed since then, as he now thinks that it is more likely than not that talc can cause ovarian cancer.

Under cross examination, Siemiatycki acknowledged that he had not reviewed the plaintiff’s specific case, as his testimony was only intended to address the general link between use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer .

Johnson & Johnson Concerns Are Corporate Image Over Human Life

The talcum powder lawsuit selected for the California trial was filed on behalf of Ms. Echeverria, a 63-year-old woman who allegedly made Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders a regular part of her daily feminine hygiene routine in the decades prior to her ovarian cancer diagnosis. Like other plaintiffs around the country, she claims that tiny particles of talc entered her vagina and migrated to her ovaries, resulting in the type of inflammation that encourages the growth of ovarian cancer cells.

During opening statements earlier in the week, Escheverria’s attorney asserted that Johnson & Johnson had known of the alleged link between talc and ovarian cancer for decades, but decided to withhold warnings from the public to protect its image.

“It’s the safe and gentle corporate image of a mother and baby that the defendants are placing over human life, in this case,” he told the jury.

Delaware State Court Plaintiffs Request Coordination

10 plaintiffs who filed talcum powder lawsuits in Delaware Superior Court are seeing coordination of all ovarian cancer cases involving Johnson & Johnson products. In addition to Johnson & Johnson, Imerys Talc America Inc., and the Personal Care Products Council are named as defendants.

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Cases Filed in Canada

In May 2016, a class action lawsuit was filed in Toronto, Ontario on behalf of Canadian women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to their long-term use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder for feminine hygiene. Plaintiffs assert that the company should have warned consumers decades ago about the alleged link between talc powder and ovarian cancer, and that doing so would have easily prevented many, many cases of the disease.

Missouri Talcum Powder Plaintiff Verdicts

Johnson & Johnson has been named a defendant in more than 3,000 talcum powder claims in state and federal courts throughout the country. In addition to California, similar litigation is currently underway in Missouri, New Jersey and Delaware state courts, as well as New Jersey Federal Court.

The Missouri litigation, has already resulted in 6 talcum powder trials, with plaintiffs winning 4, one defense verdict and the most recent June 2017 trial declared a mistrial due to a US Supreme Court ruling. The first concluded in February 2016, when the family of an Alabama woman who died of the disease was awarded $72 million ($10 million compensatory and $62 million punitive).

Three months later, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $55 million ($5 million compensatory, $50 million punitive) to a South Dakota ovarian cancer victim.

The following October, another Missouri jury awarded $70 million, including $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $67.5 million in punitive damages, to a third plaintiff.

Missouri’s fourth talcum powder trial concluded in March 2017, with a win for Johnson & Johnson. In May, however, the company was hit with its largest talcum powder verdict thus far, when another Missouri jury awarded more than $100 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the plaintiff in the state’s fifth trial. The final trial in June, where Shawn Blaes and other non-Missouri plaintiffs were in mid-trial when Judge Burlison declared a mistrial just hours after the US Supreme Court ruled on the state versus federal court jurisdictional issue in Bristol-Myers vs. California Supreme Court.

How will the Bristol-Myers “California-Plavix” Ruling Affect Missouri and Other State Court J&J Talcum Powder Cases?

On June 19, 2017 in the most recent St. Louis courtroom trial, Estate of Shawn Blaes, et al vs. Johnson & Johnson Case No. 1422-CC09326-01, over Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder, trial counsel received notice of a US Supreme Court decision that day and were changing trial strategy instantly, and scrambling to determine if the Supreme Court decision handed down that morning doomed their case. The ruling was from a California multi-plaintiff drug case, Bristol Myers-Plavix Litigation JCCP Case No. 4748 (San Francisco County Superior Court) where Bristol-Myers had appealed the August 29, 2016 California Supreme Court decision, where the California court ruled that “foreign resident plaintiffs were able to remain parties to the Plavix litigation in California State Court” see California Court Opinion Jurisdiction of Non-Resident Plavix Plaintiffs 8.29.2016. Bristol-Myers immediately appealed to the US Supreme Court, where appeal arguments were heard on April 24, 2017, see BMSQ California Plavix SCOTUS Appeal Transcript , which left non-resident plaintiffs in state court cases across the country in limbo, pending the ruling.  On June 19th the US Supreme Court in an 8-1 ruling clarified the non-resident question for many plaintiffs, including the three plaintiffs in the pending trial in front of Judge Rex Burlison, who immediately declared a mistrial. The Blaes trial has been reset for October 2017, pending motions and briefings regarding the Plavix ruling and how it applies to the trial.

There are already dismissals in federal and state court cases of non-resident plaintiffs in non-talc lawsuits, so what will the “California-Plavix” ruling do to the thousands of other talc cases pending across the country? That question remains to be answered.

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