United States of America

I’m not writing many blog posts with an exclamation point in the title. But my goodness.

pesticide-239x300A jury in Oakland, California this week found Monsanto liable for yet another case of cancer and awarded a couple $2 billion plus more than $55 million total in compensatory damages! Alva and Alberta Pilliod are both in their 70s and have lived in Livermore, a town 40 miles east of San Francisco, for over 30 years.

While living there, they also used Roundup for more than 30 years to keep their home landscaped and unfortunately, both developed cancer. Alva was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2011 that started in his bones and soon spread to his pelvis and spine. Four years later, his wife Alberta was also diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma but hers was in her brain. Fortunately, they both survived and are currently in remission, but the cancer has had life-changing effects on both of their lives and they both have suffered lasting damage from it.

A federal jury this week found that exposure to Roundup, the popular weed killer product, caused a California man to develop cancer.  How much money did they award?  They have not given an award because the case was bifurcated.  There will be another phase to determine damages.

In phase 2 of the trial in San Francisco, the jury determines Monsanto’s liability and decide how much money to award in damages. Hardeman v. Monsanto is the bellwether case for the Roundup MDL (what is an MDL?) which includes thousands of similar suits from federal courts around the country. The ultimate outcome of the Hardeman trial will dictate how the remaining Roundup cases are resolved and things are looking good for the plaintiffs so far.

The causation ruling in Hardeman comes on the heels of a landmark verdict in a Roundup case in California state court – Johnson v. Monsanto. That case ended in disaster for Monsanto with a verdict of $280 million for the plaintiff.

hernia mesh settlementsTo date, thousands of lawsuits related to defective hernia mesh implants have been filed in courts across the country. These suits claim that defective surgical implant devices were the cause of chronic pain, serious infections, obstructed bowels, perforated abdomen lining, and the development of adhesions. Some plaintiffs’ injuries were severe enough that they needed further surgeries to correct these issues.

The defendants in these lawsuits include, but are not limited to, Ethicon, C.R. Bard, and Atrium. The plaintiffs in these cases allege that the hernia mesh and patch implants were defectively designed which caused them to malfunction after being implanted in hernia repair surgery. At this point, none of these hernia mesh lawsuits have gone to trial or settled. However, an examination of prior settlements in similar cases suggests that hernia mesh plaintiffs can expect case values in the million dollar range.

What Is Hernia Mesh?

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Bair Hugger MDL Coming Soon?

The Bair Hugger lawsuits are going poorly for plaintiffs.  Should you bring a claim if you believe you suffered an infection from a Bair Hugger during surgery?  Decide for yourself.  But in spite of some early punches to the face for plaintiffs, there is a still a reasonable chance these cases end well for plaintiffs.  Let’s talk about these cases, what there are, where they are going, and what are the prospects that the 3M Bair Hugger cases reach a settlement.

What These Bair Hugger Cases Are About

A Bair Hugger device is a temperature management system that is used during surgery.  The purpose of the invention is to help the body regulate the appropriate temperature. The Bair Hugger pushed hot air through a hose into a blanket specially made to work with the device. The hot air produced by Bair Hugger accumulates under the surgical drape covering the patient.  This hot air escapes under the surgical drape below the level of the surgical table or over top of it

 

Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Device is designed, manufactured, and marketed by Defendants 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare, Inc. There are more than 50,000 Bair Hugger FAWs in the United States.

How does it work? The Bair Hugger is a portable heater/blower connected by a flexible hose to a blanket, typically positioned the patient getting surgery.

Keeping a patient warm is particularly useful during knee and hip replacement surgery because the procedures tend to be very long.   The body loses heat increasingly over the course of surgery.

Another thing about metal hip and knee replacement surgery is that your body is particularly prone to infection. Why?  The metal helps spread the infection.

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goutThe latest drug to catch the eye of mass tort lawyers is the gout medication Uloric.  The FDA is concerned that Uloric has a greater risk of death compared to allopurinol, another gout medication. This follows a clinical trial which showed that Uloric may result in heart-related death.

What is gout?

Gout is a variation of arthritis that results when urate crystals accumulate around joints. Urate crystals are formed when there are abnormally high levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is usually dissolvable in the bloodstream and urinated out. However, the body can sometimes either produce too much uric acid or excrete too little of it. Gout primarily affects the joint connected to the big toe. Its sufferers experience symptoms such as joint pain, inflammation, redness, and difficulties with moving around. Paul Manafort’s gout complications since he has gone to prison has been a big news story of late.  This makes sense because inactivity can exacerbate gout symptoms.

boy-on-dock-2019-300x200In February 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Child Victims Act into law. It extends the statute of limitations for victims of child abuse.  Child sex abuse victims are now allowed to file criminal charges against their abuser before they turn 28. Victims are allowed to file civil charges against their abuser before they turn 55. Previously, victims had to file both civil and criminal charges before they turned 23. The law also allows a one-year period for individuals to file cases that happened longer than what the statute of limitations would have allowed. It also requires judges to have some training on how to handle child sex abuse cases.

What are statutes of limitations, and why do we have them?

Statutes of limitations (SOL) are a predetermined period of time that the state is allowed to charge someone with a crime. Different crimes have different extended periods of time when one can file charges against someone. However, the same crime may have a different SOL depending on the state. There are SOL laws because of concerns that witness testimony might be unreliable. A victim may not necessarily remember enough about their abuse that the jury may not find them credible. Physical evidence may also deteriorate over time, which further questions credibility.

In October, a birth injury malpractice verdict was awarded against a Minnesota midwife which demonstrates the very real dangers of failing to accurately estimate the fetal size and weight before delivery. The plaintiff, a mother from a small town in Eastern Minnesota, sued the certified nurse midwife from Allina Health negligently mishandling the delivery of her son in January 2016.

This was the plaintiff’s second child and throughout her pregnancy, she repeatedly told her midwife at Allina Health that the baby felt considerably larger with this pregnancy. The midwife reassured her that the baby was normal sized and estimated that he would be around 6 pounds at birth. Unfortunately for the midwife, this weight estimate turned out to be disastrously wrong.

Fetal Macrosomia

Last week I read speculation that the Roundup lawsuits might bankrupt Bayer because the cost of the settlements and verdicts they will have to pay will destroy the company.  Do I believe this?  No.  But, boy, it makes me more interested in every tidbit of information about the Roundup lawsuits pending in federal court.

court-of-appeals-199x300The judge overseeing all of the federal lawsuits involving the weed killer Roundup has granted Bayer’s request to have an upcoming trial split into two phases. This order prevents plaintiffs from introducing evidence that the company tried to influence regulators and manipulate the public into thinking that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was safe. Roundup plaintiffs’ attorneys opposed Bayer’s proposals because they felt that their evidence proves Monsanto’s intent and misconduct.

Upcoming trial in February 2019

In July 2018, 3M settled a lawsuit with the federal government over its Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2), which it had sold to the US military. The lawsuit alleged that 3M knowingly supplied them with defective earplugs that may have resulted in the hearing loss and impairment of hundreds of thousands of military personnel.  Does this mean 3M did certainly did something wrong?  No.  But where there is smoke there is usually fire.

I do not think this is going to be the last Combat Arms Earplug lawsuit that 3M is going to have to settle.

Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2

I’m writing to update readers on the Taxotere class action (MDL) lawsuits.

Taxotere has been one of the most widely used chemotherapy drugs since it was developed in the mid-1990s. Chemotherapy drugs like Taxotere work by attacking cancer cells within the body. Taxotere was originally developed and introduced by the New Jersey pharmaceutical company Adventis which is now Sanfoi-Adventis.

courthouse-300x200Following its approval by the FDA in 1996, a strong marketing push soon made Taxotere the chemo drug of choice for breast cancer treatment. Breast cancer is one of the most common types of all cancers with 300,000 women diagnosed annually. By 2009 the majority of breast cancer patients were being treated at some point with Taxotere, making it the most prescribed chemo agent in the U.S. In 2009, the year before the original patent on Taxotere expired, Sanfoi-Adventis reported $3 billion in revenues from its popular chemo drug.