Update: Last Weeks J&J $37 Million Talcum Powder Mesothelioma Verdict—Add $80 Million In Punitive Damages

J&J TALCUM POWDER CAUSES MESOTHELIOMA – WHO KNEW AND WHEN?

By Mark A. York (April 12, 2018)

 

 

 

 

 

 

(MASS TORT NEXUS MEDIA) In a very loud and direct voice, Johnson & Johnson and their talc supplier, Imerys SA suffered an additional $80 million in punitive damages award on top of the initial $37 million jury verdict awarded last week. This brings the total trial verdict to $117 million they must pay to a retired New Jersey husband and wife, after a trial found that plaintiff Stephen Lanzo’s decades long use of J&J talcum powder products caused him to be afflicted with mesothelioma. A fatal form of cancer not often affiliated with use of talcum powder products.

The Middlesex County, New Jersey, jury ordered the companies to pay $80 million in punitive damages Wednesday, after post-trial arguments on punitive damages. Last week, the jury awarded the Mr. Lanzo $30 million in compensatory damages and his wife $7 million in damages.

Lanzo claims his use of Johnson & Johnson name brand products like Shower to Shower and Baby Powder for more than 30 years, and  that inhaling the powder caused his mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly cancer that impacts the lining of the lungs. The $80 million in punitive damages in J&J’s home state of New Jersey, where traditionally they have avoided adverse trial verdicts, and enjoyed a “home team” sense of security, may now send a message J&J’s withholding of scientific data and information that shows their consumer product have dangers and the company has been aware for decades has come full circle.

Deposits of talc, one of Earth’s softest minerals are often located near deposits of the minerals that constitute asbestos, and studies have shown the risk of cross-contamination during mining. Johnson & Johnson said its talc products do not contain asbestos, which, it noted, has been a legal requirement since the 1970s.

SCIENCE SAYS TALC IS DANGEROUS

The debate over talc began decades ago. In the early 1970s, scientists discovered talc particles in ovarian tumors. In 1982, Harvard researcher Daniel Cramer reported a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. His study was followed by several more finding an increased risk of ovarian cancer among regular users of talcum powder. Cramer, who at one point advised J&J to put a warning on its products, has become a frequent expert witness for women suing the company. J&J ignored and suppressed Mr. Cramer’s attempts to show them the study data then publicly declared this research as flawed, which J&J still continues to this day.

As other talcum powder meso cancer cases are pending in courts across the country, with one set to go to trial in May in South Carolina, J&J and its affilaites may have to gear up to defend a flood of additional new cases if the talc-meso linked plaintiff verdicts continue,  jury in California found in favor of Johnson & Johnson in an asbestos-related case in November 2017.

Lanzo’s case was the first to go to trial in New Jersey, where of Johnson & Johnson is headquartered, with the trial taking place in a state court versus a more traditional federal venue, where J&J are more accustomed to defending their consumer, pharmaceutical and medical device product line. If all pending litigation against J&J and its affiliated divisions for their products are totaled, you will find that the number of lawsuits being defended by J&J easily surpasses 100 thousand individual lawsuits filed in federal and state courts across the country.

Johnson & Johnson and other talcum powder companies face thousands of talcum powder cancer lawsuits elsewhere that draw a connection between genital talc use and ovarian cancer, where there are been massive verdicts as high as $400 million last year in California and in a St Louis courtroom where talcum powder ovarian cancer verdicts have totaled over $300 million in the last three years.

Johnson & Johnson is facing hundreds of additional lawsuits in a federal multi-district litigation also in New Jersey, see Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder MDL 2738 (USDC New Jersey), this litigation is related primarily to the ovarian cancer claims brought by women across the country, who claim that J&J talcum powder products cause ovarian cancer, which combined with the emerging talc mesothelioma lawsuits, would open an entire new area of mass tort litigation for J&J and its affiliates to defend.

The Lanzos’ lawyers accused the company of holding back information from its customers about the health risks of asbestos in its talc products since the 1960s. This has bene a key plaintiff legal strategy in most every case against J&J, as they have been found to have made concerted and boardroom facilitated efforts to suppress and change public opinion about their product dangers.

Efforts to conceal this fact included J&J’s paying respected medical, science and other respected researchers to write and publish article and research papers mitigation the adverse findings posted in independent journals alleging that asbestos was found in talc products. Trial testimony also showed that J&J had made multiple and unsuccessful attempts to remove asbestos from their talc products, dating back to the 1970’s, yet at trial they claimed there was no asbestos risk in their talcum powder products. With one defining trial comment being “Why do you try so hard to get it out, it’s because it is there,” which would seem to define plaintiff claims that J&J was aware of the risks long ago.

Johnson & Johnson argued that it did extensive testing to make sure its products were not contaminated. The science J&J relies on has been the subject of research since at least 1975 and many times the findings were found to be adverse to the consumer product giants sales and marketing agenda, and were often discredited by an organized corporate strategy.

“Johnson’s Baby Powder has been used for more than 120 years and it does not contain asbestos or cause mesothelioma,” the company offered. “After suffering multiple losses through court rulings and at trial, plaintiff’s attorneys have shifted their strategy and are now alleging that talcum powder is contaminated with asbestos, despite multiple independent, non-litigation-driven scientific evaluations which have found that our baby powder does not contain asbestos.

“Throughout this trial, we were prevented from presenting evidence we believe would have been important to the jury in their deliberations, which forced us to file multiple mistrial motions. We will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder and immediately begin our appeal, and we believe that once the full evidence is reviewed, this decision will be reversed.”

The Lanzo trial started on January 29, 2018 and was closely watched as the first “talc” lawsuit to go to trial in Johnson & Johnson’s home state over allegations that talcum-based hygiene products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower contained asbestos and that J&J failed to warn of the risk as well as hid data that showed asbestos was in its products. The asbestos allegations are now an evolving legal fight for J&J, as most prior litigation over its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products were over claims that the products have caused ovarian cancer in women. Those 5 cases case have been in the Missouri and California state courts over the last 2 years, with plaintiffs winning all but 1 of those trials, see J&J Talcum Powder Litigation, Missouri State Court, St Louis County Docket.

J&J DID WIN 1ST CALIFORNIA MESO TRIAL

Of note is the California court trial verdict of November 16th where J&J did win a victory in the first mesothelioma trial; where J&J and co-defendant Imerys Talc America successfully defended claims by plaintiff Tina Herford that J&J’s Baby Powder caused

Suppressing adverse research findings and manipulating science related to discoveries that Johnson & Johnson products pose significant health risks are cornerstones of most litigation against J&J and its various medical products divisions, often resulting in much higher verdicts based on the intentional failure to warn and failure to disclose the dangers to consumers. Often the trial data shows that J&J has been aware of many dangers as far back as the middle 1970’s, and yet they went to extraordinary lengths to suppress this information from being released to the marketplace and consumers.

J&J was defended by the Chicago firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP a highly respected and very aggressive defense firm, who are rather new to the J&J world of medical device litigation and were unsuccessful. They argued that any link between talc products and mesothelioma is based on the tried and sometimes untrue defense of faulty testing methods, and plaintiff claims of limited and outdated studies, defense counsel even went so far as to state that Lanzo was exposed to asbestos in his childhood home and at school.

Defense claimed that J&J’s products never contained asbestos, and that they have performed careful testing to confirm that, which based on the jury verdict fell on deaf ears.

WHO’S LIABLE IF MESO-TALC LITIGATION EXPLODES

While the ovarian cancer cases have dominated the headlines, the cosmetic talc asbestos contamination cases may present the bigger risk to defendants and a much greater reward to plaintiff counsel. Thousands of companies used cosmetic talc in their products over the last hundred years. The entire population could claim exposure, especially to defendants that sold personal care products that could be ingested, inhaled or exposed via air-borne contact. The risk is that the cosmetic talc defendants become the defendant of last resort when a plaintiff has no other convincing credible sources of exposure to asbestos, especially when the original product source is now a bankrupt entity.

Science of Cosmetic Talc Claims: While it may be difficult to challenge long-established trigger approaches if a talc claim involves a claim of asbestos contamination, ovarian cancer talc claims may require a new look at trigger issues because the underlying science of how talc exposure may cause ovarian cancer is different from how asbestos inhalation damages the respiratory system. Having learned from previous trigger battles in asbestos, the insurers are likely to challenge the science that the first exposure to cosmetic talc causes injury that can be associated with the development of ovarian cancer and characterized as “bodily injury” as required in their policies. They may seek out scientific opinion that ovarian cancer caused by cosmetic talc is not progressive in nature, and thus not warranting the imposition of a continuous trigger. And, generally, the insurers will likely seek to limit the spread of potentially triggered policies to as few years as possible, and as close to the manifestation of the disease as possible.

DOES J&J TALCUM POWDER CAUSE CANCER?

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay nearly $1 billion in total damages after just 5 trials, alleging its baby powder is causing ovarian cancer, all jury verdicts have been in state courts in Missouri and California, see J&J Talc Trials St. Louis Missouri.

Talc, a mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen and hydrogen, is used extensively in cosmetics and personal care products. Women sometimes use talcum powder on their genital areas, sanitary napkins or diaphragms to absorb moisture and odor – contrary to the guidance of most physicians. (Asbestos, linked to lung cancer, was once an impurity in talc, but it has been banned for several decades.)  J&J is notorious for using any means possible to influence scientific data and opinion as well as manipulating research reports and public media commentary by industry experts. The recent California trial showed payments made to previously perceived impartial Science Council members, who were declaring publicly that J&J talcum powder does not pose a cancer risk, the Los Angeles jury did not agree with J&J and other pro-talc defense team members, as over $300 million of the total $417 million judgment was for punitive damages, usually awarded for intentional misconduct, see “New Evidence of Johnson & Johnson Bad Conduct Moved LA Jury to Award $417 Million Talc Verdict”.

His studies and the many others that have found a relationship used a case-control approach. A group of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and a group without it were asked to recall their past diet and activities, and the results were then compared.

Critics say these kinds of studies have serious drawbacks, particularly “recall bias.” Women may forget what they did or, if diagnosed with cancer, might inadvertently overestimate their use of a suspect substance. People without a serious disease may be less motivated to remember details.

Three other studies – considered cohort studies – did not find any overall link. Unlike the case-control studies, these efforts began with a large group of women who did not have cancer and followed the progress of their health, with participants recording what they were doing in real time. The results of this approach, most scientists say, are stronger because they aren’t subject to the vagaries of memory.

One such study included more than 61,000 women followed for 12 years as part of the National Institutes of Health’s well-respected Women’s Health Initiative.

IS “MESOTHELIOMA TALC” THE NEW MASS TORT?

Two recent verdicts for asbestos contamination demonstrate the risk to cosmetic talc defendants. In October 2016, a Los Angeles County jury awarded $18M to Philip Depolian against Whittaker, Clark & Daniels finding it 30% responsible for his mesothelioma due to his alleged exposure to various cosmetic talc products used at his father’s barbershops that contained asbestos. The jury apportioned liability against various cosmetic talc defendants that had settled and several other cosmetic talc product defendants that sold products including Old Spice, Clubman, Kings Men and Mennen Shave Talc.

In 2015, another Los Angeles jury awarded Judith Winkel $13M against Colgate-Palmolive for mesothelioma allegedly caused by exposure to talc in its baby powder. The jury rejected Colgate and its experts’ claims that the cosmetic talc at issue was not contaminated by asbestos and that the talc in question were non-fibrous “cleavage fragments” unlikely to be inhaled or embedded in the lungs. Although details of the trial are not readily verified, at least one report indicated that evidence presented at trial showed that the talc contained 20% asbestos fibers.

These cases are particularly important because the defendants were held responsible for cosmetic talc containing asbestos and for having caused mesothelioma and not ovarian cancer as in the earlier J&J talc cases. Further, both juries found that the defendants acted with malice. However, the cases were confidentially settled before the respective punitive damage phases.

Will “Talc Mesothelioma” be the next mass tort against Johnson & Johnson and its affiliates? Mass Tort Nexus will continue to report on this as additional information becomes available.

The Stephen Lanzo case docket can be found under: Lanzo v. Cyprus Amex Minerals Co, et al., Docket No. L00738516 in Middlesex County Superior Court.

 

 

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Jury Finds Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Caused Mesothelioma With A $37 Million Verdict

J&J NOT FARING WELL IN 2018 TRIAL VERDICTS AS PLAINTIFFS WIN AT TRIAL AGAIN

By Mark A. York (April 6, 2018)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(MASS TORT NEXUS MEDIA) Johnson & Johnson was hit again in a courtroom. This time for $37 million in New Jersey state court, where a jury found that J&J’s talcum powder based products contain asbestos and caused the male plaintiff Stephen Lanzo to develop mesothelioma, a fatal cancer. The “talc” verdict occurred late Thursday, April 5, 2018 before Judge Ana C. Viscomi, who presides over the state’s centralized asbestos docket, closely followed the March 8th trial verdict against J&J for $35 million in the J&J Ethicon Pelvic Mesh trial, which found that J&J hid the dangers of its synthetic surgical mesh products. In the Lanzo talc trial, Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier were found to have caused the plaintiff to develop mesothelioma, after using the pharmaceutical giant’s asbestos-containing talcum powder over several decades. The case docket entry is Lanzo v. Cyprus Amex Minerals Co, et al., Docket No. L00738516 in Middlesex County Superior Court, Judge Anna C. Viscomi.

Johnson & Johnson is facing hundreds of additional lawsuits in a federal multi-district litigation also in New Jersey, see Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder MDL 2738 (USDC New Jersey), this litigation is related primarily to the ovarian cancer claims brought by women across the country, who claim that J&J talcum powder products cause ovarian cancer, which combined with the emerging talc mesothelioma lawsuits, would open an entire new area of mass tort litigation for J&J and its affiliates to defend.

The Lanzo trial started on January 29th and was closely watched, as the first “talc” lawsuit to go to trial in Johnson & Johnson’s home state over allegations that talcum-based hygiene products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower contained asbestos and that J&J failed to warn of the risk as well as hid data that showed asbestos was in its products. The asbestos allegations are now an evolving legal fight for J&J, as most prior litigation over its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products were over claims that the products have caused ovarian cancer in women. Those five cases case have been in the Missouri and California state courts over the last 2 years, with plaintiffs winning all but one of the trials, see J&J Talcum Powder Litigation, Missouri State Court, St Louis County Docket.

J&J WON FIRST CALIFORNIA TALC MESO TRIAL

Of note, is the California court trial verdict from November 16, 2017 where J&J did win a victory in the first mesothelioma trial; where J&J and co-defendant Imerys Talc America successfully defended claims by plaintiff Tina Herford that J&J’s Baby Powder caused her to be stricken with mesothelioma, after 35 years of using their products daily..

The New Jersey trial was the first case that went to trial, where a male plaintiff has asserted cancer causing claims involving J&J’s talc products. Plaintiff Stephen Lanzo, 46, claimed that after using Johnson’s Baby Powder for decades and inhaling asbestos particles within the product, he developed mesothelioma.  The primary claims against J&J and their talc supplier Imerys Talc America is that the companies knew their cosmetic talc products contained asbestos, but failed to warn consumers and intentionally suppressed scientific research that showed asbestos was contained within their talc based products.

Suppressing adverse research findings and manipulating science related to discoveries that Johnson & Johnson products pose significant health risks are cornerstones of most litigation against J&J and its various medical products divisions, often resulting in much higher verdicts based on the intentional failure to warn and failure to disclose the dangers to consumers. Often the trial data shows that J&J had been aware of many dangers, as far back as the middle 1970’s, and yet they went to extraordinary lengths to suppress this information from being released to the marketplace and consumers.

J&J and Imerys defended against Lanzo’s mesothelioma claims by asserting that the his condition was caused by of exposure to asbestos from other sources, and that the talc used in J&J’s products never contained asbestos. During the trail Mr. Lanzo’s trial counsel described in detail, as well as by showing documents obtained from J&J and other legally accepted science and research sources, that talc and asbestos occur naturally together, and that J&J knew as early as the 1970’s that their cosmetic talc products contained asbestos.

Efforts to conceal this fact included J&J’s having paid respected medical, science and other prominent industry researchers to write and publish articles and research papers mitigating the adverse findings posted in independent journals alleging that asbestos was found in talc products. Trial testimony also showed that J&J had made multiple and unsuccessful attempts to remove asbestos from their talc products, dating back to the 1970’s, yet at trial they claimed there was no asbestos risk in their talcum powder products. With one defining trial comment being “Why do you try so hard to get it out, it’s because it is there” which would seem to define plaintiff claims that J&J was aware of the risks long ago.

J&J was defended by the Chicago firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP a highly respected and very aggressive defense firm, who are rather new to the J&J world of medical device litigation and were unsuccessful. They argued that any link between talc products and mesothelioma is based on the tried and sometimes untrue defense of faulty testing methods, and plaintiff claims of limited and outdated studies. Defense counsel even went so far as to state that Lanzo was exposed to asbestos in his childhood home and at school.

Defense claimed that J&J’s products never contained asbestos, and that they have performed careful testing to confirm that, which based on the jury verdict fell on deaf ears.

DOES J&J TALCUM POWDER CAUSE CANCER?

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay nearly $1 billion in total damages after just five trials, alleging its baby powder is causing ovarian cancer, all jury verdicts have been in state courts in Missouri and California, see J&J Talc Trials St. Louis Missouri.

Talc, a mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen and hydrogen, is used extensively in cosmetics and personal care products. Women sometimes use talcum powder on their genital areas, sanitary napkins or diaphragms to absorb moisture and odor – contrary to the guidance of most physicians. (Asbestos, linked to lung cancer, was once an impurity in talc, but it has been banned for several decades.)  J&J is notorious for using any means possible to influence scientific data and opinion,only as well as manipulating research reports and public media commentary by industry experts. The recent California trial showed payments made to previously perceived impartial Science Council members, who were declaring publicly that J&J talcum powder does not pose a cancer risk, the Los Angeles jury did not agree with J&J and other pro-talc defense team members, as over $300 million of the total $417 million judgment was for punitive damages, usually only awarded for intentional misconduct, see “New Evidence of Johnson & Johnson Bad Conduct Moved LA Jury to Award $417 Million Talc Verdict”.

SCIENCE SAYS TALC IS DANGEROUS

The debate over talc began decades ago. In the early 1970’s, scientists discovered talc particles in ovarian tumors. In 1982, Harvard researcher Daniel Cramer reported a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. His study was followed by several more finding an increased risk of ovarian cancer among regular users of talcum powder. Cramer, who at one point advised J&J to put a warning on its products, has become a frequent expert witness for women suing the company. J&J ignored and suppressed Mr. Cramer’s attempts to show them the study data, then publicly declared this research as flawed, which J&J still continues to this day.

His studies and the many others that have found a relationship used a case-control approach. A group of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and a group without it were asked to recall their past diet and activities, and the results were then compared.

Critics say these kinds of studies have serious drawbacks, particularly “recall bias.” Women may forget what they did or, if diagnosed with cancer, might inadvertently overestimate their use of a suspect substance. People without a serious disease may be less motivated to remember details.

Three other studies – considered cohort studies – did not find any overall link. Unlike the case-control studies, these efforts began with a large group of women who did not have cancer and followed the progress of their health, with participants recording what they were doing in real time. The results of this approach, most scientists say, are stronger because they aren’t subject to the vagaries of memory.

One such study included more than 61,000 women followed for 12 years, as part of the National Institutes of Health’s well-respected Women’s Health Initiative.

WILL “MESOTHELIOMA TALC” BE THE NEW MASS TORT?

Two recent verdicts for asbestos contamination demonstrate the risk to cosmetic talc defendants. In October 2016, a Los Angeles County jury awarded $18M to Philip Depolian against Whittaker, Clark & Daniels finding it 30% responsible for his mesothelioma, due to his alleged exposure to various cosmetic talc products used at his father’s barbershops that contained asbestos. The jury apportioned liability against various cosmetic talc defendants that had settled and several other cosmetic talc product defendants that sold products including Old Spice, Clubman, Kings Men and Mennen Shave Talc.

In 2015, another Los Angeles jury awarded Judith Winkel $13M against Colgate-Palmolive for mesothelioma allegedly caused by exposure to talc in its baby powder. The jury rejected Colgate and its experts’ claims that the cosmetic talc at issue was not contaminated by asbestos and that the talc in question were non-fibrous “cleavage fragments” unlikely to be inhaled or embedded in the lungs. Although details of the trial are not readily verified, at least one report indicated that evidence presented at trial showed that the talc contained 20% asbestos fibers.

These cases are particularly important because the defendants were held responsible for cosmetic talc containing asbestos and for having caused mesothelioma and not ovarian cancer as in the J & J cases. Further, both juries found that the defendants acted with malice; however, the cases were confidentially settled before the respective punitive damage phases.

Who’s Liable if Industrial Talc Litigation Explodes

While the ovarian cancer cases have dominated the headlines, the cosmetic talc asbestos contamination cases may present the bigger risk to defendants and a much greater reward to plaintiff counsel. Thousands of companies used cosmetic talc in their products over the last hundred years. The entire population could claim exposure, especially to defendants that sold personal care products that could be ingested, inhaled or exposed via air-borne contact. The risk is that the cosmetic talc defendants become the defendant of last resort when a plaintiff has no other convincing credible sources of exposure to asbestos, especially when the original product source is now a bankrupt entity.

Science of Cosmetic Talc Claims: While it may be difficult to challenge long-established trigger approaches if a talc claim involves a claim of asbestos contamination, ovarian cancer talc claims may require a new look at trigger issues because the underlying science of how talc exposure may cause ovarian cancer is different from how asbestos inhalation damages the respiratory system. Having learned from previous trigger battles in asbestos, the insurers are likely to challenge the science that the first exposure to cosmetic talc causes injury that can be associated with the development of ovarian cancer and characterized as “bodily injury” as required in their policies. They may seek out scientific opinion that ovarian cancer caused by cosmetic talc is not progressive in nature, and thus not warranting the imposition of a continuous trigger. And, generally, the insurers will likely seek to limit the spread of potentially triggered policies to as few years as possible, and as close to the manifestation of the disease as possible.

Exceptional advancements in the science of diagnosing and predicting cancer in the last few years will provide plaintiffs, policyholders and insurers the opportunity to craft new trigger theories to their advantage and to circumvent past judicial decisions that were to their disadvantage. We have already seen the insurance industry using alleged advancements in asbestos science to attempt to limit the scope of historical “occurrence” policies. There is no insurance precedence with respect to trigger and talc ovarian cancer claims. Expect both sides to bring new experts and theories with respect to biologic and genomic issues, including molecular cancer experts opining about genetic alterations pre-existing before manifestation of a tumor. Resolution of these issues will be especially challenging because much less is known about females’ “defense systems” as opposed to airborne exposure through the lungs.

The science of ovarian cancer cosmetic talc claims is likely different from asbestos claims, but that will be a question for the experts and courts. Because plaintiffs will have an easy time in most cases demonstrating exposure to consumer products (e.g., for baby powder, theoretically from birth to present), both kinds of cosmetic talc claims generally would be linked together based on length and type of exposure.

Will “Talc Mesothelioma” be the next mass tort against Johnson & Johnson and its affiliates? Mass Tort Nexus will report on this as additional information becomes available.

The Stephen Lanzo case docket can be found under: Lanzo v. Cyprus Amex Minerals Co, et al., Docket No. L00738516 in Middlesex County Superior Court.

 

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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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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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$417 Million J&J Talcum Powder Cancer Verdict Overturned in Los Angeles Court

JOHNSON & JOHNSON SCORES A POST-TRIAL DEFENSE RULING IN CALIFORNIA STATE COURT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week a California state court set aside a $417 million verdict awarded in August 2017, against Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit by a woman that claimed J&J’s talc-based product, Johnson’s Baby Powder caused her ovarian cancer after years of feminine hygiene use.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maren Nelson entered a ruling  that’s a further setback facing women and family members who accuse J&J of not warning consumers about the cancer risks of its talc-based products. There are now thousands of lawsuits filed against J&J over the claims that use of talc products leads to ovarian cancer, the cases are files in both state and federal venues across the country including the federal Multidistrict Litigation in J&J Talcum Powder MDL 2738 (USDC New Jersey) as well as thousands of Missouri State court cases, (see J&J Talc Cases in Missouri State Court), where plaintiffs have successfully obtained large verdicts against J&J over the last two years. A single talc verdict won in Missouri state court, was recently overturned based on the June 2017 US Supreme Court Plavix ruling, which defined a plaintiff’s residence as the jurisdictional guide to where state court cases can be filed.

There is another J&J talc related trial currently underway in front of  Judge Edward Simpson, in the same LA County Court, where there plaintiff has alleged use of J&J’s talcum powder products caused her to contract Mesothelioma. This trial started October 19th after plaintiff Tina Herford’s first trial was declared a mistrial on October 6, 2017, when Ms. Herford made a statement on the witness stand related to “talc use and ovarian cancer” causing Judge Simpson to declare a mistrial and quickly move to get the new trial started within 10 days. The J&J California state court trials and others soon to follow across the country, will keep J&J defense counsel busy for the foreseeable future, as more and more of J&J’s behind the scenes manipulation of R&D, paid research papers and suppression of adverse scientific publications is now coming to light, with all this conduct being introduced as evidence in the trials.

Judge Nelson’s ruling followed the jury’s decision in August to hit J&J with the largest verdict to date in Talc litigation, awarding California resident Eva Echeverria $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages. This trial was fast-tracked due to Ms. Echeverria’s onset of stage 4 cancer and fears that she would not survive the wait for a trial set past August 2017.

Nelson reversed the jury verdict and granted J&J’s request for a new trial, ruling the August trial was underpinned by errors and insufficient evidence on both sides, culminating in excessive damages. The judge added that there also had been misconduct of the jury during the trial.

Mark Robinson, who represented the woman in her lawsuit, said he would file an appeal immediately, “We will continue to fight on behalf of all women who have been impacted by this dangerous product,” he stated.

J&J in a statement said it was pleased with the verdict, adding that it will continue to defend itself in additional trials.  J&J said declarations by two jurors after the trial showed that three members of the 12-person jury who voted against finding the company liable were improperly excluded from determining damages.

J&J also stated that  it faces lawsuits by 4,800 plaintiffs nationally asserting talc-related claims. Many of those cases are in California, where Echeverria’s case was the first to go to trial, and in the previously referenced Missouri court, where J&J has faced five trials, with very limited success.

The Missouri litigation led to four plaintiff verdicts against J&J in which juries issued verdicts totaling $307 million, with J&J only winning a defense verdict in a single trial.

But the Missouri cases do have a legal hurdle to address, the cases have largely been brought by out-of-state plaintiffs, hand now face jurisdictional questions after the US Supreme Court issued the June 19, 2017 Plavix ruling that limited where personal injury lawsuits could be filed, see U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down California Ruling in Bristol-Myers’ Plavix Jurisdictional Case.

On October 17, 2017 , a Missouri appellate court threw out a US$72 million verdict by a jury in February 2016 to the family of a deceased Alabama woman after ruling the case should not have been tried in St. Louis, see Missouri Appeals Court Throws Out $72 Million Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Cancer Verdict.

Mass Tort Nexus will publish additional case updates and additional information regarding all Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder related litigation across the country as they develop.

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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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Does Using Talcum Powder Cause Ovarian Cancer?

Does Johnson & Johnson talcum powder cause ovarian cancer?

(Mass Tort Nexus, August 28, 2017)  Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay nearly $1 billion in total damages after just 5 trials, alleging its baby powder is causing ovarian cancer, all jury verdicts have been in state courts in Missouri and California, see J&J Talc Trials St. Louis Missouri.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Los Angeles jury said yes, and last week it ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay $417 million to 63-year-old Eva Echeverria, She blamed her terminal illness on Johnson’s Baby Powder, which she used for decades starting at age 11. Her argument was, the company should have warned consumers about the risk, which J&J stated was not necessary and the jury chose to believe Ms. Echeverria and her trial team.

The jury award is the biggest yet against J&J, which has lost 5 of 6 trials involving claims that its baby powder and Shower to Shower powder cause ovarian cancer. The company denies there’s a connection between its products and the disease and quickly said it would appeal the Los Angeles verdict. Lawsuits involving thousands more plaintiffs are pending, see Johnson & Johnson Talc MDL 2738 Briefcase.

Medical industry and cancer research experts divide sharply on talc’s role. Some are convinced the powder is linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer, while other  including government health experts, say the evidence is lacking.

Amanda Fader, a gynecologic oncologist at Johns Hopkins University who was not involved in the studies states “The scientific body of literature is not compelling at this time to support a strong association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, let alone to say that any one specific case was associated with powder,” and The American Cancer Society says that studies on talcum powder and ovarian cancer “have been mixed, with some studies reporting a slightly increased risk and some reporting no increase.

Yet Fader and others aren’t ruling out that a link might someday be established. The Food and Drug Administration, which says it has found no link, is doing additional research on the topic. Although, J&J has spent millions of dollars lobbying and influencing all areas of FDA and related public oversight and commentary to prevent and type of link between cancer and talcum powder products from being abbounced, even while competitor talc products sold at Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree post warning labels declaring a possible link.

Talc, a mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen and hydrogen, is used extensively in cosmetics and personal care products. Women sometimes use talcum powder on their genital areas, sanitary napkins or diaphragms to absorb moisture and odor – contrary to the guidance of most physicians. (Asbestos, linked to lung cancer, was once an impurity in talc, but it has been banned for several decades.)  J&J is notorious for using any means possible to influence scientific data and opinion as well as manipulating research reports and public media commentary by industry experts. The recent California trial showed payments made to previously perceived impartial Science Council members, who were declaring publicly that J&J talcum powder does not pose a cancer risk, the Los Angeles jury did not agree with J&J and other pro-talc defense team members, as over $300 million of the total $417 million judgment was for punitive damages, usually awarded for intentional misconduct, see“New Evidence of Johnson & Johnson Bad Conduct Moved LA Jury to Award $417 Million Talc Verdict”.

Many pediatricians also discourage the use of such powder on babies because the particles can cause breathing problems, according to Jennifer Lowry, a pediatrician and environmental health expert at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

More than 22,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and 14,000 will die. The biggest risk factors, all well established, include a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, mutations in the BRCA genes and age.

The debate over talc began decades ago. In the early 1970s, scientists discovered talc particles in ovarian tumors. In 1982, Harvard researcher Daniel Cramer reported a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. His study was followed by several more finding an increased risk of ovarian cancer among regular users of talcum powder. Cramer, who at one point advised J&J to put a warning on its products, has become a frequent expert witness for women suing the company. J&J ignored and suppressed Mr. Cramer’s attempts to show them the study data then publicly declared this research as flawed, which J&J still continues to this day.

His studies and the many others that have found a relationship used a case-control approach. A group of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and a group without it were asked to recall their past diet and activities, and the results were then compared.

Critics say these kinds of studies have serious drawbacks, particularly “recall bias.” Women may forget what they did or, if diagnosed with cancer, might inadvertently overestimate their use of a suspect substance. People without a serious disease may be less motivated to remember details.

Three other studies – considered cohort studies – did not find any overall link. Unlike the case-control studies, these efforts began with a large group of women who did not have cancer and followed the progress of their health, with participants recording what they were doing in real time. The results of this approach, most scientists say, are stronger because they aren’t subject to the vagaries of memory.

One such study included more than 61,000 women followed for 12 years as part of the National Institutes of Health’s well-respectedWomen’s Health Initiative.

But critics, including Cramer, say these investigations have their own flaws. Because ovarian cancer is so rare, they say, prospective studies don’t always end up with enough cancer cases to detect a potential link between talcum powder and the disease.

And evidence can change as new research becomes available. That explains why the NCI, which uses expert “editorial boards” to vet the voluminous information it puts out for doctors and consumers, has amended its language on talc.

In February 2014, one editorial board reviewed an analysis of several case-control studies that found genital-powder use was associated with a “modest increased risk” of ovarian cancer. The board decided to add the article to the NCI website and noted a weak association between talc and ovarian cancer. It also added a link to the website of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a World Health Organization agency that had concluded years ago that talcum powder was “possibly carcinogenic,” when used in the genital area.

But a year later, the same board scrutinized the Women’s Health Initiative study and took another look at previous studies. That’s when it changed the wording on the NCI’s site to say the “weight of evidence” did not support a link. The board also removed the IARC information. This all occurred after Johnson & Johnson used lobbying pressure and alleged payments to various affiliated entities to influence the NCI change of formal opinion

The FDA has wrestled with the issue, too. In 2014, it denied a citizens’ petition asking the agency to require a warning label on talcum powder; its review of the scientific literature found no link between the product and cancer, officials said.

But because the agency continues to get “adverse event reports” involving talcum powder, it is taking another look at the evidence and launching its own laboratory research. The summary for one study, funded by the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health, says that “talc’s effects on female genital system tissues have not been adequately investigated.”

In a statement after the Los Angeles verdict, J&J said that “we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease.” But, it added, the science “supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”

No matter what side they are on, scientists agree that more research – through lab studies with animals or human tissue – is needed to understand how talcum powder could potentially cause cancer. One hypothesis is that talc applied to the genital area can migrate up the vagina to the ovaries, causing chronic inflammation that eventually results in malignancies. But that is only a hypothesis.

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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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