What Happened in the World of Mass Torts Last Week? - Monday, June 11, 2018

Friday, Jun 1, 2018

The two-week trial for 3M Bair Hugger System ended in favor of the defendant as the Minneapolis federal jury announced on May 30 that the plaintiff failed to provide adequate evidence to affirm the Bair Hugger System caused the surgical site infection. This was the first bellwether trial in a series of lawsuits lined up against the air warming blanket maker.

The plaintiff Louis Gareis from South Carolina suffered a deep joint infection in 2010 after he underwent a total right knee replacement surgery during which the 3M Bair Hugger warming blanket was used. In the allegation, Gareis states that the defective design of the warming blanket was the reason for him to undergo the antibiotic treatments, intravenous injections, and a revision surgery for the removal of his knee implant. A second 3M Bair Hugger System trial is expected to be trial ready by December 2018, involving claims by Kurtis Skarr and his wife, Debbie, of Idaho.

More than 4,467 hip and knee infection lawsuits are filed against the Bair Hugger warming blanket maker. Similar cases are consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the District of Minnesota before U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen.

Friday, Jun 1, 2018

Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman set May 28, 2019, as the date for initiating the trial for the opioid litigation against the Opioid Big Pharma industry and its affiliates in Oklahoma.

The lawsuits filed in June 2017 by various states blamed opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Allergan, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals and several others for false marketing tactics which led to the opioid epidemic. Other than Oklahoma, several states like Ohio, Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington have filed lawsuits previously. The distributors played an integral role in opioid overdose deaths by not keeping track of oversupply, and failure to identify suspicious orders and report them to authorities. Attorney General Mike Hunter assured that Judge Balkman's move will help resolve the plight of many opioid victims throughout the nation.

Opioid overdoses corresponded to 66% of all drug overdose deaths in 2016. More than 400 opioid-related lawsuits are centralized as a part of multidistrict litigation, MDL No 2804 (In Re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation) in the Northern District of Ohio before U.S. District Judge Dan A. Polster. Recently, attorneys undertaking opioid litigation for babies born with birth defects due to opioid use by their mothers, requested a separate legal track within the MDL to address their medical expense concerns before Judge Polster.

Tuesday, Jun 5, 2018

The Federal Court issued the 11th Practice and Procedure Order on May 29 involving Ethicon Inc.'s Physiomesh Lawsuit. The order requires the hernia mesh and tissue samples to be preserved from plaintiffs who have been or will be requiring a surgical removal and have a case pending in the proceeding.

The order also demands plaintiffs to inform their healthcare provider that any mesh or tissue removed must be preserved and sent to Steelgate, Inc., a biomedical specimen storage, and management company. A ‘Preservation Notice’ has to be sent whenever the mesh removal process takes place. The further shipment of the explanted samples will be arranged by Steelgate, in Florida, which will act as a third-party storage unit for such materials.

In May 2016, Ethicon announced the withdrawal of its Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh from the worldwide market, considering reports that the device led to a lot of revision surgeries when used in laparoscopic ventral hernia repair.

Over 900 Hernia Mesh lawsuits are pending against Ethicon; similar cases are consolidated as a part of multidistrict litigation MDL No. 2782 ( In Re: Ethicon Physiomesh Flexible composite Hernia Mesh Products Liability Litigation) before the U.S. District Judge Richard Story in the Northern District of Georgia. The MDL is steadily moving forward with respect to the legal proceedings.

Tuesday, Jun 5, 2018

The Jury has selected 22 cases for a trial expected to convene on June 6  in St. Louis, Missouri, State Court, wherein the plaintiffs allege that Johnson & Johnson sold them cancer-causing talcum powder.

Imerys SA settled the ovarian cancer claims by these 22 women for at least $5 million. The talc supplier faces 9000 claims stating the asbestos-laden talc supplied to J&J caused mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. This leaves J&J and its consumer-products unit as the only defendant in the case for not warning consumers about the talc cancer risk. However, Imerys maintains a firm denial regarding the presence of cancer-causing agents in the talcum powder. Thousands of lawsuits filed all over the nation allege the baby powder use for feminine hygiene purpose led to ovarian cancer in several women; many have concluded in multimillion verdicts against the talc manufacturer.

Similar lawsuits filed against J&J in state courts in California, New Jersey, and Delaware are consolidated for pre-trial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey MDL No. 2738 (In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation), presided over by Hon. Freda L. Wolfson, U.S.D.J./ Hon. Lois H. Goodman, U.S.M.J.

Tuesday, Jun 5, 2018

The U.S.District Judge presiding over the 3T Heater Cooler Systems pre-trial proceedings appointed a group of plaintiffs' attorneys to exhibit various leadership roles in taking the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) forward.

The case management order issued by Judge Jones on May 31, stated one attorney should serve as lead and liaison counsel and an executive committee comprising six additional attorneys be made for taking timely actions during the litigation proceedings. However, each individual plaintiff’s own lawyer will be liable for deadlines and establish causation in the separate cases.

Product liability cases continue to be reviewed by lawyers for open heart surgery patients who suffered nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) infections due to exposure to infected 3T Heater-Coolers. Similar cases filed throughout the federal court system have been centralized under multidistrict litigation MDL No. 2816 (In Re: Sorin 3T Heater-Cooler System Products Liability Litigation No. II), before U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Thursday, Jun 7, 2018

The second bellwether trial for C.R. Bard's Eclipse IVC Filter ended in the defendant's favor on June 1, 2018, as the Arizona jury found that adequate warning was provided to doctors regarding the possible adverse effects of the IVC filter.

The verdict was given out in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona presided over by Judge David G. Campbell. The plaintiff, Doris Jones of Georgia, was implanted with Bard IVC Eclipse Filter in 2010 to treat recurrent deep vein thrombosis and five years later she developed arm pain and headaches.

On further probe, it was discovered that the filter broke and one of the pieces blocked her right pulmonary artery, which could not be removed by surgeons.

The first bellwether against C.R.Bard concluded with a $3.6million as compensatory and punitive damages to the plaintiff Sherr-Una Booker. There are more than 3,800 IVC Filter lawsuits against Bard for not warning about the defective design of the filter. The cases were centralized in 2015 to coordinate the pre-trial proceedings under MDL 2641 (in re Bard IVC Filters Products Liability Litigation) before U.S. District Judge David Campbell.


Thursday, Jun 7, 2018

A safety alert by hip implant manufacturer Stryker reveals that certain sizes of their LFIT V40 Hip implant may rupture. The company received a higher than expected number of charges stating that the femoral head broke free of the stem that connects it to the thigh bone requiring a revision surgery.

Stryker identified eight sizes of LFIT V40 femoral heads that may cause complications and informed health centers to alert the patients. The FDA will decide in a month or two whether to consider a recall for the product or not. An earlier Class II recall by FDA in 2016 affected more than 42,500 Stryker hip replacement products.

Cases against Stryker hip replacement systems are consolidated as a part of multidistrict litigation, MDL No. 2768 ( In Re: Stryker LFIT V40 Femoral Head Products Liability Litigation) in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts before U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani.



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