Table of Contents
Mass Tort Law Firm Intake Introduction
Mass tort and product liability cases arise when a large number of people are injured or harmed by a defective product or medical device. And when victims hit the hundreds or thousands with the same questions of facts involved, a class can be formed to effectuate a multidistrict litigation. That, in turn, often is the springboard towards hiring a mass tort law firm intake call center.
These cases can be complex and challenging, and they often involve significant settlements or verdicts. Among the reasons a law firm intake service is outsourced is because of the efficiencies they provide.
In this blog post, we will discuss some of the well-known products and incidents that lead to mass tort and product liability cases. In between the manufacturer that failed to warn about the dangers of their work and the claimants affected by the health complications linked to these cases are law firm intake centers.
These dangerous cases include consumer products, dangerous drugs, defective medical devices, and toxic substances.
Top Consumer Mass Tort Products: Roundup, J&J Talcum Powder, and Asbestos
Roundup, the well-known weedkiller produced by Bayer, has been at the center of a legal firestorm over claims that its main chemical ingredient, glyphosate, causes cancer. The Roundup mass tort litigation has been a significant and highly publicized case in recent years, captivating the attention of attorneys and the public alike.
Notably, the role of intake centers in Roundup has been to efficiently and effectively qualify potential clients who may have been affected by exposure to glyphosate and been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other subtypes of lymphoma. Many claimants stopped using the weedkiller and lacked evidence of usage but were encouraged to keep receipts and jugs of the product if still in their possession. More adept legal intake specialists would pursue photos of these items, which act as direct evidence to strengthen their respective cases. Additional qualification parameters include consistent and prolonged usage either commercially or residentially for at least 2 years.
Let’s delve into the highlights of the Roundup mass tort, including global settlement amounts, landmark cases, bellwether trials, and other compelling information.
Global Settlement Amounts: In June 2020, Bayer announced a settlement of over $10 billion to resolve approximately 95,000 Roundup cancer lawsuits. This settlement included $1.25 billion set aside for potential future claims from Roundup customers who may develop cancer. The substantial settlement amount reflects the magnitude of the litigation and the impact it has had on individuals who claim to have developed cancer as a result of Roundup exposure.
Landmark Cases: Several landmark cases have played a significant role in shaping the Roundup mass tort litigation. One notable case involved a California couple, Alva and Alberta Pilliod, who filed a lawsuit against Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) alleging that Roundup caused their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The Pilliods were awarded a staggering $2 billion in damages, although the amount was later reduced by a judge. This case garnered attention and set a precedent for subsequent lawsuits.
Bellwether Trials: Bellwether trials are often used in mass tort litigation to gauge the potential outcomes of similar cases. In the Roundup mass tort, bellwether trials have been conducted to provide insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the claims. These trials help both plaintiffs and defendants assess the value of the cases and potentially facilitate settlement negotiations. In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a $25 million judgment in the first Roundup bellwether trial. This decision allowed the judgment to stand, further highlighting the significance of bellwether trials in shaping the outcomes of the Roundup mass tort litigation.
Controversy and Corporate Defense: Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, has consistently maintained that Roundup is safe and that glyphosate does not cause cancer. Bayer has used the defense of pointing to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) stance on glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, to support its case against allegations that Roundup or glyphosate causes cancer. The EPA has repeatedly concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans. Bayer has used this determination as evidence in its defense, emphasizing that the EPA has deemed glyphosate safe for use. However, the court has stated that the EPA’s determination that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic” was flawed in multiple ways. This suggests that Bayer’s reliance on the EPA’s endorsement may be called into question. Notably, during the litigation, the manufacturer was reportedly exposed for fabricating scientific research to suppress evidence that confirmed risks associated with Roundup and NHL. Plaintiffs argue that internal Monsanto documents show corruption and collusion with regulators, while Bayer contends that these documents are being taken out of context.
Ongoing Litigation: While a global settlement has been reached, it is important to note that not all Roundup cases have been resolved. Some individuals may choose to opt-out of the settlement and pursue individual lawsuits. Additionally, future claims from Roundup customers who may develop cancer are accounted for in the settlement amount. The Roundup mass tort litigation continues to evolve, and attorneys involved in this area of law should stay updated on any new developments.
Health Issues Linked to Roundup: Roundup exposure has been linked to various health issues, with non-Hodgkin lymphoma being the most common ailment. Here are some of the most common ailments that Roundup victims have had, according to the search results:
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: The most common ailment associated with Roundup exposure is non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. Studies have shown that people exposed to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, are at risk of developing this type of cancer.
- Chronic Lymphocytic Lymphoma: This type of cancer affects the blood and bone marrow, which is a subtype of cancer linked to Roundup. A review of epidemiologic studies provides ample evidence for an association between exposure to glyphosate-based formulations (GBFs) and an increased risk of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL), which includes CLL. Ultimately, there may be over 70 subtypes of lymphoma linked to Roundup.
- Liver Disease: Roundup exposure has also been linked to liver disease. Glyphosate has been shown to cause liver damage in animal studies, and some studies have suggested that it may have similar effects in humans.
- Celiac Disease: Roundup exposure may also lead to both gluten intolerance and celiac disease. These two disorders have grown to affect about five percent of the global population, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- Chronic Kidney Disease: Roundup exposure has been linked to chronic kidney disease. Some studies have suggested that glyphosate may cause kidney damage in humans, particularly in those who are exposed to the chemical over long periods.
- Heart Disease: Roundup exposure has also been linked to heart disease. Glyphosate has been shown to cause oxidative stress, which can lead to inflammation and damage to the cardiovascular system.
- Symptoms: In addition to the above ailments, Roundup exposure has been linked to other symptoms such as eye irritation, skin rashes, nausea, nosebleeds, headaches, sore throat, asthma, difficulty breathing, and dizziness. These symptoms may be less severe than the above ailments, but they can still have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life.
In conclusion, the Roundup mass tort has been a captivating legal battle, with significant settlement amounts, landmark cases, and ongoing litigation. Legal intake centers have played a crucial role in the Roundup mass tort litigation by efficiently qualifying prospective claimants, handling high call volumes, improving the profitability of law firms, and providing lead retention and follow-up services.
Attorneys have witnessed the magnitude of the litigation and the impact it has had on individuals who claim to have developed cancer due to Roundup exposure. As the legal landscape surrounding Roundup continues to unfold, you can count on attorneys to stay informed and provide the best possible representation for their clients involved in this mass tort.
Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder has been the subject of massive mass tort litigation, with thousands of lawsuits alleging that the company’s talc-based products, such as baby powder, caused ovarian cancer and other health problems. The talcum powder mass tort litigation has been ongoing for years, with several landmark cases, bellwether trials, and significant settlements. Here are some of the highlights of the talcum powder mass tort litigation.
J&Js Talcum Powder
Call centers that provide law firm intake were tasked with qualifying claimants who used talcum powder, preferably J&J’s products, and subsequently developed ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, uterine cancer, or endometrioid cancer. The preferred length of usage by claimants for most law firms was at least 4 years for the purpose of feminine hygiene. Similar to Roundup, claimants often no longer had receipts or bottles of the product. Hence, affidavits may be required, especially for surviving family members representing their deceased loved ones.
A law firm call center may also play a crucial role in talcum powder mass tort litigation by efficiently qualifying potential clients, handling high call volumes, identifying potential clients with specific health complications, improving the profitability of law firms, and providing lead retention and follow-up services. Their expertise and infrastructure contribute to the smooth operation of the intake process, ensuring that qualified claimants are identified and referred to the law firm for further legal action.
Landmark Cases: One of the most notable cases involved a California woman, Eva Echeverria, who filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, alleging that the company’s talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer. Echeverria was awarded a $417 million verdict, although the amount was later reduced by a judge. This case served as a landmark trial and set a precedent for subsequent litigation.
Bellwether Trials: Bellwether trials have played a significant role in shaping the talcum powder mass tort litigation. These trials help both plaintiffs and defendants assess the value of the cases and potentially facilitate settlement negotiations. In one bellwether trial, a Missouri jury awarded $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women who claimed that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder caused their ovarian cancer. This verdict was later reduced to $2.1 billion.
Global Settlement Amounts: Johnson & Johnson has faced significant backlash and legal challenges, with thousands of individuals alleging that talcum powder exposure led to their cancer diagnoses. The controversy surrounding talcum powder has sparked debates about the safety of the product and the responsibility of corporations in disclosing potential risks associated with their products. In April 2023, Johnson & Johnson proposed an $8.9 billion settlement to resolve over 38,000 talcum powder lawsuits. However, this settlement has not yet been agreed to, and ongoing litigation continues.
Controversy and Corporate Defense: Johnson & Johnson has consistently maintained that its talc-based products are safe and that they do not cause cancer. The company has faced significant backlash and legal challenges, with thousands of individuals alleging that talcum powder exposure led to their cancer diagnoses. Johnson & Johnson has aggressively defended all claims, and the company has faced talc-related verdicts, settlements, and legal fees totaling around $4.5 billion.
Bankruptcy Tactics: Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, LTL Management, filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to resolve the multibillion-dollar talc powder lawsuits it faces. The company has argued that bankruptcy provides a more fair and efficient way to handle settlements. However, talc plaintiffs opposing Johnson & Johnson’s proposed settlement plan have portrayed the company’s actions as an abuse of the bankruptcy system.
Health Complications: The health complications involved in talcum powder lawsuits are primarily related to the potential link between talc-based products and ovarian cancer. Here are some of the health complications that have been associated with talcum powder exposure, according to the search results:
- Ovarian Cancer: The most common health complication associated with talcum powder exposure is ovarian cancer, Studies have suggested that talc particles applied to the genital area or on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms could travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovaries, potentially leading to cancer. While findings have been mixed, some studies have reported a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer in women who use talcum powder.
- Mesothelioma: Some lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson have argued that its talcum powder is contaminated with asbestos and that asbestos is causing women to develop mesothelioma, a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart.
- Asbestos and talc are often mined near each other, although since the 1970s, talc used in all consumer products has been required to be asbestos-free. Johnson & Johnson maintains that its talc does not contain asbestos.
- Other Health Complications: In addition to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, talcum powder exposure has been linked to other health complications such as lung cancer, endometrial cancer, and other respiratory problems. While the evidence linking talcum powder to these health complications is not as strong as the evidence linking it to ovarian cancer, it is still a concern for those who have been exposed to talcum powder.
In conclusion, talcum powder exposure has been linked to various health complications, primarily ovarian cancer. Other health complications associated with talcum powder exposure include mesothelioma, lung cancer, endometrial cancer, and other respiratory problems. Johnson & Johnson has consistently maintained that its talc-based products are safe, but the controversy surrounding talcum powder has sparked debates about the safety of the product and the responsibility of corporations in disclosing potential risks associated with their products. The talcum powder mass tort litigation continues to evolve, and attorneys involved in this area of law should stay updated on any new developments.
Asbestos is one of the most significant mass torts in United States history, with thousands of lawsuits filed against numerous defendants. Asbestos is a mineral that was widely used in construction, automotive, and other industries for its heat-resistant properties. However, exposure to asbestos fibers has been linked to various health problems, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Here are some of the highlights of the asbestos mass tort litigation.
Law firm intake centers have helped identify potential clients who developed mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos. This tort could be tricky for some claimants when pursuing proof of asbestos exposure. Claimants must provide evidence of exposure to asbestos, such as work history, military service, or other sources of exposure. In cases where workers were paid in cash, work history may be difficult to impossible to obtain.
Extensive Use of Asbestos: Asbestos was used in thousands of products, exposing millions of plaintiffs to harm. Moreover, thousands of defendants have been named in asbestos litigation, including manufacturers, distributors, and contractors. The widespread use of asbestos has made it one of the most significant mass torts in United States history.
Health Complications: Asbestos exposure has been linked to various health problems, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. These health complications can be severe and life-threatening, and they can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life.
Global Settlement Amounts: Asbestos litigation has resulted in significant global settlement amounts. For example, in 2002, the Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust paid out over $3 billion to asbestos claimants. The sheer magnitude of the settlement amount reflects the impact of asbestos litigation on individuals who have been affected by asbestos exposure.
Landmark Cases: Several landmark cases have played a significant role in shaping the asbestos mass tort litigation. One notable case involved W.R. Grace & Co., a company that manufactured asbestos-containing products. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2001, and the bankruptcy proceedings resulted in a settlement of over $4 billion for asbestos claimants.
Ongoing Litigation: Asbestos litigation is ongoing, with thousands of lawsuits still being filed against defendants. The complexity of asbestos litigation, coupled with the large number of defendants and plaintiffs, has made it a challenging and lengthy process.
Controversy and Corporate Defense: Asbestos litigation has been controversial, with some defendants arguing that the link between asbestos exposure and health complications is not clear. Some defendants have also argued that they were not aware of the potential risks associated with asbestos exposure. However, plaintiffs have argued that defendants had knowledge of the risks associated with asbestos exposure and failed to warn individuals of those risks.
In conclusion, asbestos mass tort litigation is one of the most significant mass torts in U.S. history, with extensive use of asbestos leading to various health problems. The litigation has resulted in significant global settlement amounts, landmark cases, and ongoing litigation. Asbestos litigation has been controversial, with defendants arguing that the link between asbestos exposure and health complications is not clear.
Top Dangerous Drugs: Zantac, Xarelto, Tylenol, and Opioids
Zantac, a popular heartburn medication, has been the subject of a mass tort litigation due to concerns that it contained a cancer-causing substance called NDMA. The name of the MDL for the Zantac litigation is “In Re: Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation” with MDL No. 2924. The litigation involves claims against manufacturers of ranitidine, a heartburn medication sold under the brand name of Zantac.
Intake specialists performing law firm client intake in these cases had the responsibility of confirming that prospective claimants ingested Zantac (or another ranitidine product) on a daily or regular basis for at least 6 months, and 12 months for other firms. Some firms required claimants be a U.S. citizen and used the drug in the United States. Unfortunately, as with other claims, claimants may have been disqualified if they were smokers anytime during the 25 years prior to diagnosis of a qualifying ailment since health complications were cancer related. Typical proof included a prescription, doctors’ note, or receipt for over-the-counter ranitidine products. Hence, top legal intake specialists would pursue photos of medicine bottles since that would show the pharmacy, prescribing doctor, and possibly the dosage and purpose. Notably, due to Michigan state laws, law firms excluded representation of people who used the drug in that state. If the claimant took a generic version, some law firms required the drug be taken in either California, Massachusetts, Vermont, or Illinois.
Here are some additional highlights of the Zantac mass tort litigation:
Health Complications: The popular heartburn medication has been linked to several serious health problems with the most unfortunate being cancer. Specifically, Zantac has been linked to bladder cancer, liver cancer, and stomach cancer. In addition to cancer, Zantac has been linked to several other health complications, including liver disease, celiac disease, hypothyroidism, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, colitis, and diabetes. These health complications can be severe and life-threatening, and they can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life.
Global Settlement Amounts: The Zantac mass tort litigation has not yet resulted in a global settlement amount, but the litigation is ongoing. The sheer magnitude of the litigation reflects the impact of Zantac on individuals who have been affected by NDMA exposure.
Controversy and Corporate Defense: Boehringer Ingelheim and Sanofi have consistently maintained that Zantac is safe and that it does not cause cancer. The companies have aggressively defended all claims, and the litigation has resulted in significant legal fees. The company’s strategy to get the plaintiffs’ experts kicked out worked, as described below.
Plaintiffs’ Experts Denied: In the Zantac multidistrict litigation, plaintiffs’ experts were denied by U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg, who ruled that their methodologies were unreliable and that their testimony would be excluded from the litigation. This decision eliminated thousands of Zantac lawsuits, and the judge dismissed all Zantac lawsuits brought in the MDL class action on December 6th, 2022.
Plaintiffs planned to appeal the decision, maintaining that there was more than sufficient evidence about the link between Zantac and cancer to support their claims. However, the judge’s decision was a significant blow to the plaintiffs’ case, and it appeared that the Zantac mass tort litigation was coming to an end. In response to the judge’s decision, plaintiffs changed their strategy by pursuing state courts. The drugmakers were still facing tens of thousands of state-court lawsuits alleging a link between Zantac and a wide range of cancers, including some that were not at issue in the MDL.
Groundbreaking California Settlement: In an important turn of events, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has reached a confidential settlement in what would have been the first trial over claims that Zantac, the popular heartburn medication, caused cancer. The settlement was made with California resident James Goetz, who alleged that he developed bladder cancer from taking Zantac. This settlement has caused a stir in the Zantac mass tort litigation, as it marks a significant victory for the plaintiffs and sets the stage for future trials and potential settlements.
Ongoing Litigation: The Zantac mass tort litigation is ongoing, with hundreds of lawsuits still being filed against manufacturers. The complexity of the litigation, coupled with the large number of plaintiffs, has made it a challenging and lengthy process. However, recent developments in the Zantac mass tort litigation demonstrate that plaintiffs can still achieve favorable outcomes in state courts.
In conclusion, the Zantac mass tort litigation has been a significant and highly publicized case, with significant health complications associated with the drug. The litigation has not yet resulted in a global settlement amount, but the ongoing litigation reflects the impact of Zantac on individuals who have been affected by NDMA exposure. As witnessed, the legal landscape surrounding Zantac continues to unfold.
Xarelto is an anticoagulant medication (a.k.a., blood-thinner) designed to prevent blood clotting. The case was known as MDL 2592: Xarelto Products Liability Litigation and was created in January 2017, presided by Honorable Eldon E. Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana, United States District Court. The drug has been the subject of mass tort litigation due to its link to severe bleeding events, including gastrointestinal bleeding and brain hemorrhages. The Xarelto mass tort litigation had been ongoing for several years, with thousands of lawsuits filed against manufacturers Bayer and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
Mass tort legal intake centers were hired by many law firms to pursue claimants who used the medication and had an overnight stay at a hospital for at least 1-2 nights (depending upon the law firm’s criteria, which varies); the overnight stay involved a diagnosed bleeding event; was prescribed the drug by a doctor, and; the claimant had not hired legal representation in the matter. Standard procedure for legal intake centers was to filter any prospective claimants who already hired representation to prevent dual representation. Some legal intake professionals were signing claimants who also took Pradaxa or Zocor, which are also blood thinners. As part of the MDL process, plaintiffs were required to complete and serve a Plaintiff Fact Sheet (PFS) to provide relevant information about their claims to the defendants. This helps in organizing and managing the large number of cases involved in the litigation. Although legal intake specialists typically obtain most of the details, paralegals from the intake center’s clients would pursue any additional information needed to complete these forms.
Here are some of the highlights of the Xarelto mass tort litigation:
Big Sales: J&J and Bayer generated over $1 billion in sales from Xarelto in 2014 and twice that in 2015. Annual prescriptions hit over 23 million.
Landmark Cases: Several landmark cases have played a significant role in shaping the Xarelto mass tort litigation. One notable case involved a Louisiana man who suffered severe gastrointestinal bleeding after taking Xarelto. The case resulted in a $27.8 million verdict against the manufacturers, which was later reduced to $1.6 million.
Bellwether Trials: The judge in the MDL set three bellwether cases to be tried. These cases were intended to provide insight into how juries may react to certain claims and evidence. Disputes flared up as parties began gearing up for the first bellwether trials to start soon in state court over the blood thinner Xarelto. These disputes highlighted the complexity of the litigation and the challenges of mass tort litigation. Notably, a jury in federal court in Missouri returned the third verdict in favor of Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Bayer in a bellwether trial over the blood-thinner. This verdict was a significant victory for the defendants and demonstrated the challenges of proving liability in Xarelto mass tort litigation.
Controversy and Corporate Defense: Bayer and Janssen Pharmaceuticals have consistently maintained that Xarelto is safe and effective and that it does not cause severe bleeding events. The companies have aggressively defended all claims, and the litigation has resulted in significant legal fees.
Global Settlement Amounts: In 2019, Bayer and Janssen Pharmaceuticals agreed to pay $775 million to settle approximately 25,000 Xarelto lawsuits. This settlement was a significant victory for the plaintiffs and demonstrated the impact of Xarelto on individuals who have been affected by severe bleeding events. Notably, some Xarelto cases have been dismissed, indicating that they were either resolved through settlement or did not proceed to trial. At the time of publishing, it appears most or all remaining Xarelto lawsuits have been virtually or been dismissed.
Health Complications: The manufacturer of Xarelto, the anticoagulant medication, has faced allegations that they failed to adequately warn about the health complications associated with the drug. Here are some of the health complications that the manufacturer allegedly failed to warn about.
- Severe Bleeding: Xarelto has been linked to severe bleeding events, which can be life-threatening. Plaintiffs have alleged that the manufacturer did not adequately warn about the risk of bleeding when taking Xarelto
- Internal bleeding is a significant concern for individuals taking Xarelto, and the alleged failure to warn about this risk has been a central issue in the Xarelto lawsuits.
- Blood Clots: Xarelto is prescribed to reduce the risk of stroke and systemic embolism, which are often caused by blood clots. However, plaintiffs have claimed that the manufacturer did not sufficiently warn about the risks of blood clots associated with Xarelto. This alleged failure to warn about the potential for blood clots has been a key aspect of the Xarelto lawsuits.
- Infections and Other Injuries: Plaintiffs have also alleged that they suffered from infections and other injuries as a result of taking Xarelto.
In conclusion, the Xarelto mass tort litigation has been a significant and highly publicized case, with significant health complications associated with the drug. The litigation has resulted in significant global settlement amounts, landmark cases, and ongoing litigation. Xarelto litigation has been controversial, with defendants arguing that the link between Xarelto and severe bleeding events is not clear.
This case is relevant because many attorneys believe this could be the largest MDL in history. Notably, due to the recency of the action being consolidated, there is not as much development.
Acetaminophen has been linked to autism spectrum disorder and ADHD for years. In fact, there are two multidistrict litigations associated with the medication.
When performing a law firm intake, agents would qualify mothers with in utero exposure. Specifically, claimants must have been exposed to acetaminophen in utero, typically through their mother’s use of the drug during pregnancy. Also, claimants must have received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and/or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Finally, legal intake specialists would try to get claimants to confirm acetaminophen use during pregnancy. Standard protocol for a law firm call center is verbal confirmation, while the law firm would pursue direct evidence, such as medical records or documentation from healthcare professionals. Top legal intake professionals would get a signature on a HIPAA medical release form that allows the law firm to pursue these records. The HIPAA form provides evidence that the claimant has knowledge and has provided consent for the release of their medical records.
The first is MDL 2436 In Re: Tylenol (Acetaminophen) Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, which the JPML selected on April 1, 2013, because the “over-the-counter” (“OTC”) acetaminophen containing products that are marked and sold under its TYLENOL® brand-name caused liver damage, including liver failure, even when taken as directed.” The case was terminated in February 2020.
The second and most current multidistrict litigation is MDL 3043: In re Acetaminophen – ASD-ADHD Products Liability Litigation. In this MDL, plaintiffs assert the OTC drug is linked to autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit/hyperactive disorder from in utero exposure to the drug.
Status of the Litigation: The MDL was created in October 2022, and the case is currently in the pretrial phase at time of publication, with plaintiffs and defendants collecting scientific evidence from experts. Attorneys believe the case could move to a rocket docket and expect U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York assigned to the case, Judge Denise Cote, will have a ruling on causation by the end of 2023. Attorneys believe there are enough documents and alerts demonstrating defendants had knowledge of the connection between acetaminophen and autism.
The Science: Acetaminophen/APAP and its metabolites pass through the placenta and blood brain barrier of the mother and fetus. 5% of Acetaminophen is metabolized, which is genotoxic and causes oxidative stress. Oxidative Stress is believed to increase the risk of Autism and ADHD. Importantly, there is nothing in the human brain to stop the toxic metabolites for the unborn baby. Indeed, the experts have mentioned two items of interest. First, the top 10 branded APAP products provide the following warning regarding pregnancy: “If pregnant or breast-feeding, ask a health professional before use.” However, there are no warnings related to increased risk of ASD if APAP is taken during pregnancy.
Corporate Defendants: Unlike the first MDL that was heavily focuses on the makers of Tylenol, this centralized case also focuses on the makers of Excedrin, DayQuil/NyQuil, Theraflu, Robitussin, Coricidin, and Advil. The retailers accused of failing to warn pregnant users of acetaminophen products about the neurological risks to the fetus include Costco Wholesale Corp, Walmart Inc, and other major retailers. The defendants have denied any wrongdoing and have defended their products.
The opioid crisis has been a significant and highly publicized issue in recent years, with thousands of lawsuits filed against manufacturers and distributors of opioid medications. The opioid mass tort litigation has been complex and highly contentious, with plaintiffs alleging that the manufacturers and distributors of opioids contributed to the opioid epidemic and seeking compensation for their injuries.
At the time of publication, there is not much information indicating mass tort intake centers were heavily involved in pursuing individual claims for the opioid crisis. The plaintiffs largely consisted of state attorney generals, state and local governments, Native American tribes, and medical facilities. However, it is important to note that law firm intake agents or may have played a role in assisting individuals affected by the opioid crisis in accessing legal services, treatment options, or resources. These centers could have provided support and guidance to individuals seeking compensation or legal remedies related to the opioid crisis.
Here are some of the highlights of the opioid mass tort litigation:
Health Complications: Opioids have been linked to several serious health problems, including addiction, overdose, and death. The plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers and distributors of opioids did not adequately warn about the risks associated with these medications, leading to widespread addiction and overdose deaths.
Controversy and Corporate Defense: Manufacturers and distributors of opioids have consistently maintained that their products are safe and effective and that they do not cause addiction or overdose. The companies have aggressively defended all claims, and the litigation has resulted in significant legal fees.
Global Settlement Amounts: In February 2022, four of the largest U.S. corporations agreed to pay roughly $26 billion to settle a tsunami of lawsuits linked to claims that their business practices helped fuel the deadly opioid crisis. This settlement was a significant victory for the plaintiffs and demonstrated the impact of opioids on individuals who have been affected by addiction and overdose.
Landmark Cases: Several landmark cases have played a significant role in shaping the opioid mass tort litigation. One notable case involved Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, which reached a tentative settlement with 23 states and attorneys representing roughly 2,000 local governments. The deal would have Purdue Pharma file for bankruptcy, which the company did on Sunday, and pay as much as $12 billion over time, with up to $4.5 billion coming from the Sackler family, which owns the company.
Key Manufactures and Distributors as Defendants:
- Purdue Pharma: Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, has been one of the primary defendants in the opioid litigation. The company has faced allegations of deceptive marketing practices and downplaying the risks of addiction associated with their opioid products.
- Johnson & Johnson: Johnson & Johnson, a pharmaceutical company, has faced lawsuits related to its marketing and promotion of opioid medications. The company has been accused of downplaying the risks of addiction and misleading healthcare professionals and patients about the benefits and safety of their opioid products.
- McKesson: McKesson is one of the largest drug distributors in the United States and has been named as a defendant in the opioid litigation* The company has faced allegations of failing to monitor and report suspicious orders of opioids, contributing to the diversion of these drugs into the illicit market.
- AmerisourceBergen: AmerisourceBergen, another major drug distributor, has also been named as a defendant in the opioid mass tort litigation
CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens have been among the key defendants in the opioid mass tort litigation. These retail pharmacy chains have faced allegations of substantially contributing to the opioid crisis through their practices and handling of opioid medications. In a landmark verdict, a federal jury in Cleveland found CVS Health, Walmart, and Walgreens to have substantially contributed to the opioid crisis, holding the retail segment of the drug industry accountable for the epidemic. The jury concluded that these pharmacy chains had turned a blind eye to numerous red flags about suspicious opioid orders, both at the local level and at corporate. This verdict marked the first time that the retail segment of the drug industry was held responsible in the opioid litigation.
The allegations against CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens revolve around their alleged failure to adequately monitor and report suspicious opioid orders, as well as their alleged lack of oversight and response to the opioid crisis. Plaintiffs argue that these retail pharmacy chains did not take sufficient action to prevent the diversion of opioids into the illicit market and failed to warn about the risks of addiction and overdose associated with these medications.
In terms of settlements, CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens reached a tentative $13.8 billion agreement to settle thousands of state and local lawsuits accusing them of mishandling opioids. This proposed settlement, if finalized, would be the first nationwide deal with retail pharmacy companies and would contribute to resolving a significant portion of the sprawling opioid litigation. However, it is important to note that the settlement may still subject to finalization and may be reduced if not enough government plaintiffs sign on.
The involvement of retailers like CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens in the opioid mass tort litigation highlights the shared responsibility across the entire supply chain in addressing the opioid crisis. These cases have brought attention to the role of retail pharmacies in the distribution and dispensing of opioids and have spurred discussions about the need for increased oversight and accountability in the industry.
Overall, the inclusion of retailers as defendants in the opioid mass tort litigation underscores the complex web of entities involved in the opioid crisis and the efforts to hold them accountable for their alleged contributions to the epidemic. These defendants, along with other manufacturers and distributors, have been at the center of the opioid mass tort litigation. The lawsuits allege that these companies played a role in fueling the opioid crisis through their marketing practices, distribution methods, and failure to adequately warn about the risks of addiction and overdose associated with opioids. The litigation has been complex and highly contentious, with ongoing trials, settlements, and ongoing discussions about the responsibility of these defendants in addressing the opioid epidemic.
Defective Medical Devices: Hernia Mesh Implants, Essure, Philips CPAP, IVC Filters, Transvaginal Mesh Implants
Hernia Mesh Implants
Hernia mesh lawsuits typically revolve around three main claims: defective design, failure to warn, and manufacturing defects. Patients who have suffered complications from hernia mesh implants, such as mesh failure, organ puncture, and hernia recurrence, have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers.
Companies that focused on mass tort legal intake worked on connecting qualified claimants with law firms on these claim types for years. In fact, these claims witnessed a resurgence in 2023 after J&J reportedly resolved claims since C.R. Bard had such dominating market share and had yet to resolve their claims.
To qualify, legal intake specialists typically were required to confirm claimants had a hernia mesh implanted within the past ten years and then had a revision surgery following complications with the implant. The ten-year rule was common because after 10 years, medical records were far less likely to be retrieved from hospitals, thanks to statutes on minimum medical record retrieval.
As with all other torts, an attorney call center needs assurance from the claimant that he or she did not have current or previous representation in the matter, which was designed to avoid dual representation. The most experienced legal intake professionals became adept at confirming the claimant actually had a revision surgery rather than a surgery for a different hernia. Hence, this claim displayed a need for more scrutiny and the law firm client intake team required training about the human anatomy relating to hernias. This led to designing the right type and order of questions to fetter out the facts. Questions such as what part of the body the surgeries were located, symptoms associated with all hernia related surgeries, and details on medical facilities and corresponding doctors were required. This allowed a higher percentage of intake turning into filed cases.
According to the FDA, more than one million revision surgeries are performed on patients in the U.S. alone, making it a huge revenue generator for hospitals. The number of individual lawsuits against Atrium Medical, Bard, and Ethicon combined has exceeded 50,000. The claim for individuals considering filing a hernia mesh lawsuit required an identification of the manufacturer and the specific type of implant they received. That detail could be found in the medical records where a label was placed in the records showing this information. This further underscored the importance legal intake specialists played with this claim; accurate and complete information about the medical background related to hernia surgeries increased the likelihood of a valid case.
Some of the hernia mesh products associated with lawsuits include Atrium’s C-QUR hernia mesh, Bard’s PerFix, Kugel, 3DMax, or Ventralex mesh, Covidien’s Parietex mesh, and Ethicon’s Physiomesh.
Below are some of the highlights of the hernia mesh litigation.
- Health Complications: Hernia mesh implants have been linked to several serious health problems, including chronic pain, infection, organ perforation, and hernia recurrence. The plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers did not adequately warn about the risks associated with these implants, leading to widespread complications. Below is further detail on some of the more common health complications.
- Chronic Pain: One of the most common complications associated with hernia mesh implants is chronic pain. This pain can be severe and debilitating, dramatically impacting an individual’s quality of life.
- Infection: Hernia mesh implants can also lead to infections, which can be serious and require additional medical treatment. In some cases, infections can be life-threatening.
- Organ Perforation: Hernia mesh implants can cause organ perforation, which can lead to significant health complications. Organ perforation can require additional surgeries and can be life-threatening.
- Hernia Recurrence: Hernia mesh implants can also lead to hernia recurrence, which can require additional surgeries and medical treatment.
- Mesh Erosion: Hernia mesh implants can erode, causing the mesh to break down and potentially migrate to other parts of the body. This can lead to additional health complications and require additional surgeries.
- Global Settlement Amounts: There have been several global settlements in hernia mesh litigation, with manufacturers agreeing to pay significant sums to resolve lawsuits. For example, in 2021, Atrium Medical Corporation agreed to pay $875 million to settle thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits. This settlement was a significant victory for the plaintiffs and demonstrated the impact of hernia mesh on individuals who have been affected by complications. In May 2023, Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson reached a settlement to resolve 161 lawsuits related to their Physiomesh hernia mesh product. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but it was a significant resolution in the hernia mesh mass tort litigation.
- Landmark Cases: Several landmark cases have played a significant role in shaping the hernia mesh mass tort litigation. One notable case involved Bard, which reached a $184 million settlement to resolve thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits. The settlement was a significant victory for the plaintiffs and demonstrated the challenges of proving liability in hernia mesh mass tort litigation.
- Ongoing Litigation: The hernia mesh mass tort litigation is ongoing at the time of publication against C.R. Bard and Covidien, with thousands of lawsuits still being filed against manufacturers. It is estimated these two manufacturers had a combined 75-80% market share of the hernia mesh implant market. The complexity of the litigation, coupled with the large number of plaintiffs, has made it a challenging and lengthy process.
- Controversy and Corporate Defense: Manufacturers of hernia mesh implants have consistently maintained that their products are safe and effective and that they do not cause complications. The companies have aggressively defended all claims, and the litigation has resulted in significant legal fees.
Key defendants in the hernia mesh litigation are below:
- C.R. Bard: Bard is another manufacturer facing numerous hernia mesh lawsuits. Their polypropylene hernia mesh products have been the subject of separate multidistrict litigations (MDLs). Bard’s hernia mesh products, such as PerFix, Kugel, 3DMax, and Ventralex mesh, have been targeted in these lawsuits.
- Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson): Ethicon’s Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh has also been a focus of hernia mesh litigation. The lawsuits allege that the mesh was faulty, poorly designed, and that the risks were hidden by the manufacturer. Ethicon’s Physiomesh is the subject of a separate multidistrict litigation.
- Atrium Medical Corporation: Atrium’s hernia mesh implants have been the subject of significant litigation. In January 2021, one of the largest hernia mesh settlements to date was reached in a case involving Atrium’s implants.
Overall, the settlements and lawsuit dismissals demonstrate the complexity and ongoing nature of the hernia mesh mass tort litigation. While some cases have been resolved through settlements, thousands of lawsuits are still pending against manufacturers of hernia mesh products.
Patients who have experienced complications from hernia mesh implants should consult with a medical professional and an attorney to determine if they may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers. Patient-victims have also had great success with obtaining settlements for cases like these by working with legal intake centers that have obtained the details of their surgeries during an intake process, then passing the details to a participating law firm. At the time the article was published, claims are still being filed against C.R. Bard and Covidien, and many attorneys involved in the mass tort may still be taking claims.
Essure is a permanent birth control device by Bayer that has been the subject of significant litigation in recent years. The device, which uses small devices to block the fallopian tubes, has been linked to serious health complications, including chronic pain, bleeding, and organ perforation.
Law firm client intake was often outsourced to experienced legal intake centers because, to qualify for a lawsuit against Essure, it was often a requirement that a plaintiff must have clear evidence of a condition related to the permanent birth control device. The top qualifier was that a plaintiff had a hysterectomy. Some legal intake call centers may have had less success with getting intakes from individuals because the demographics included adults in their 30s who often were suspicious of the validity of obtaining a settlement. Hence, mass tort legal intake specialists were tasked with gaining more trust and credibility form the prospective claimant, which often was achieved with more detail about process and justification of multidistrict litigation and the corresponding law firm that may represent the patient-victim.
The reason for a hysterectomy for device removal was because the Essure device could break during the explantaion. Worse, it could migrate (before, after, and during surgery). Hence, it could be considered safer to remove the device through a hysterectomy, which is a surgical event that may be compensable, especially if the patient was not made aware of this option. Moreover, a broken device that could migrate may cause organ perforation, which is a seriously harmful and potentially deadly situation.
Some of the other complications associated with Essure include pain during sex, scarring, serious infections, stillbirths, uterine tears, uterine punctures, and unplanned pregnancies.
Here are some additional highlights of the Essure mass tort litigation:
Health Complications: Essure has been linked to several serious health problems with the most serious being hysterectomies. Other injuries include pain during sex, scarring, serious infections, stillbirths, uterine tears, uterine punctures, unplanned pregnancies, chronic pain, bleeding, and organ perforation. The plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers did not adequately warn about the risks associated with these implants, leading to widespread complications.
Landmark Cases: Several landmark cases have played a significant role in shaping the Essure mass tort litigation. One notable case involved a California woman who was awarded $2.5 million in damages after suffering complications from Essure. The verdict was a significant victory for the plaintiff and demonstrated the challenges of proving liability in Essure mass tort litigation.
Global Settlement Amounts: In May 2021, Bayer, the manufacturer of Essure, agreed to pay $1.6 billion to resolve most of the lawsuits related to the device. This settlement was a significant victory for the plaintiffs and demonstrated the impact of Essure on individuals who have been affected by complications.
Ongoing Litigation: More than 16,000 Essure lawsuits have been filed for side effects and complications from the birth control product. While the majority of Essure lawsuits have been resolved through the global settlement, some lawsuits may be still pending against Bayer at the time of publication. The complexity of the litigation, coupled with the large number of plaintiffs, has made it a challenging and lengthy process.
Controversy and Corporate Defense: Bayer has consistently maintained that Essure is safe and effective and that it does not cause complications. The company has aggressively defended all claims, and the litigation has resulted in significant legal fees.
Overall, Essure was another major multidistrict litigation based upon same questions of fact that affected largely in their 30s. As with other defective medical devices, the litigation focuses on alleged defects in design, failure to warn, and manufacturing issues. Patients who experienced complications from Essure implants have sought legal recourse to hold the manufacturer accountable for their injuries, resulting in significant global settlement amounts, and landmark cases.
Philips CPAP, BiPAP, and Ventilators
Philips Respironics, a manufacturer of medical devices, has faced significant litigation related to its recalled CPAP, BiPAP, and ventilator machines. A massive 5.5 million devices were recalled due to exposure to their sleep apnea breathing devices that were linked to several types of cancer, respiratory problems, and organ damage, among other health concerns.
The overall problem originated from the polyester-based polyurethane sound abatement foam used in these devices, which was designed to reduce the sound and vibration generated by the device. However, the foam reportedly breaks down into chemicals that are inhaled through the breathing tube causing all types of ailments.
Successful legal intake could generate claimants with a high likelihood of turning into a case. Examples of what a specialized mass tort intake center would pursue involved photos of the top and bottom of the device, serial numbers of the device, confirmation numbers from Philips Respironics that validated the device was recalled, photos of medicine bottles showing details of the pharmacy and prescribing doctor related to the qualified ailment, and government issued identification. And when the legal marketers supplying the leads for the law firm intake generated cancer victims, the value of the intake likely increased because settlement value increased as well.
More experienced legal client intake centers pursued a higher level of scrutiny to prospective claimants who did not have serial numbers, confirmation numbers, and possession of recalled devices. Hence, for those situation it was more important to obtain details about the prescribing doctor and/or medical facility for the device, the insurance company that paid for the device, the durable medical equipment company that supplied the device, and whether the person received a letter about the recall of their device.
Law firms have been steadfast on their position that Philips knew the problems existed since 2015. For starters, a study was released that linked the company’s devices to ailments. Possibly worse is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a scathing Investigative Report showing Philips received field reports and emails from patients stating the foam was degrading and particles were seen going through the breathing tube. Additionally, the Report mentioned Philips conducted emissions tests showing volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) like formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen, were getting pushed through the breathing hose of patients. The report concluded that “firm management, including management with executive responsibility were aware of the potential [harm] . . . and implemented no further action.”
FDA Communications Rate Problem as Class I Recall. In June of 2021, the FDA announced the most serious recall (Class I), which means the product may cause serious illness and death. The FDA followed up with an update on November 11, 2021 that continued to highlight the foam breakdown. The agency published a website patients could register their devices for a replacement. However, two years after the recall, many people complained about the length of time it has taken to receive refurbished replacements. In an unfortunate turn of events, some of the refurbished machines were also recalled, casting a negative light on the medical device manufacturers good faith efforts to assist customers with assistance. The FDA recognized the problem by issuing a public statement admonishing Philips for its apparent lack of effort in alerting doctors, medical facilities, durable medical equipment suppliers, and patients with the problems. In fact, many patients reported finding out about the issue from legal advertisements.
Philips Recalls Millions of Devices: The saga started in April 2021 when Philips announced a recall for some of its CPAP and BiPAP machines. Then in June 2021, Philips announced a recall of millions more of its CPAP, BiPAP, and ventilator machines due to the use of dangerous PE-PUR foam that poses serious health risks to users.
Global Settlement Amounts: At the time of publications, there have been no global settlements in the Philips CPAP, BiPAP, and ventilator litigation yet. This is because the litigation is in its initial stages, and claimants are still in the process of filing lawsuits and joining the mass tort.
Controversy and Corporate Defense: Philips has maintained that it acted appropriately and that the recall was a precautionary measure. The company conducted studies that supposedly demonstrated there was little association with the ailments and their breathing machines. However, attorneys quickly shot bullets through credibility of these studies.
At the time of publication, discovery and motions were ongoing and opposing parties were dealing with expert witness testimony issues. Hence, with much pre-trial motions and hearings yet to be filed and heard, bellwether trials, landmark cases, and settlements have not occurred.
IVC filters are medical devices implanted in patients at risk of a pulmonary embolism due to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or other clotting disorders. These devices have been the subject of significant litigation in recent years, with thousands of lawsuits filed against manufacturers. IVC filters have been linked to several serious health problems, including filter fracture, migration, and perforation of vital organs. In some cases, the IVC filter grew into the patient’s tissue with such permanent effect that it could not be removed. If advertised to be a temporary implant, that could be considered misleading.
Law firm client intake for dangerous and defective medical devices is based upon verbal verification from the claimant regarding the surgical implant. This takes experienced legal intake professionals to fetter out the facts related to symptoms, initial surgery of the implant, and subsequent injuries. The IVC Filter cases were no different. Like mesh products, details about the product manufacturer and brand were located in medical records. Hence, standard legal intake processes required scrutiny regarding the dates of implant and corresponding complications. Notably, some mass tort attorneys labeled these devices as “ticking time bombs” because of the number and magnitude of serious and deadly complications that could arise without warning. That lead to legal intake centers reaching out to prospective claimants some time after the initial consultation because if an injury had not been detected initially, a subsequent x-ray or MRI could detect a complications resulting in a qualified claimant with a potential case.
Plaintiffs in these claims alleged that the manufacturers did not adequately warn about the risks associated with these implants.
To file a claim against an IVC filter manufacturer in multidistrict litigations, many law firms required certain qualifications, with the most important ones being the ones that follow below.
- Filter Fracture: IVC filters can fracture, causing the metal pieces to migrate to other parts of the body. This can cause serious health complications and require additional medical treatment.
- Filter Migration: IVC filters can migrate from their original location, causing damage to organs and tissues. This can lead to significant health complications and require additional medical treatment.
- Organ Perforation: IVC filters can cause organ perforation, which can lead to significant health complications. Organ perforation can require additional surgeries and can be life-threatening.
- Tilting: IVC filters can tilt, which can cause the device to become ineffective. This can lead to serious health complications, including pulmonary embolism.
- Pain: Chronic pain is a common complication associated with IVC filters. This pain can be severe and debilitating, impacting an individual’s quality of life.
- Device Migration: IVC filters can migrate to other parts of the body, causing significant health complications. This can require additional medical treatment and surgeries.
- Filter Detachment: IVC filters can detach from their original location, causing serious health complications. This can require additional medical treatment and surgeries.
Here are some additional highlights of the IVC filter mass tort litigation:
Global Settlement Amounts: There have been several global settlements in IVC filter litigation, with manufacturers agreeing to pay significant sums to resolve lawsuits. For example, in 2020, Cook Medical agreed to pay $21 million to settle 161 lawsuits related to their IVC filters. This settlement was a significant victory for the plaintiffs and demonstrated the impact of IVC filters on individuals who have been affected by complications.
Landmark Cases: Several landmark cases have played a significant role in shaping the IVC filter mass tort litigation. One notable case involved Bard, which reached a $200 million settlement to resolve thousands of IVC filter lawsuits. The settlement was a significant victory for the plaintiffs and demonstrated the challenges of proving liability in IVC filter mass tort litigation.
Ongoing Litigation: The IVC filter mass tort litigation is ongoing, with thousands of lawsuits still being filed against manufacturers. The complexity of the litigation, coupled with the large number of plaintiffs, has made it a challenging and lengthy process.
Controversy and Corporate Defense: Manufacturers of IVC filters have consistently maintained that their products are safe and effective and that they do not cause complications. The companies have aggressively defended all claims, and the litigation has resulted in significant legal fees.
In conclusion, IVC filters have been the subject of significant multidistrict litigation, with thousands of lawsuits filed against manufacturers. The litigation focuses on alleged defects in design, failure to warn, and manufacturing issues. Patients who have experienced complications from IVC filters have sought legal recourse to hold the manufacturers accountable for their injuries. Although it is important to note that complications associated with these devices may vary from patient to patient. The IVC filter mass tort litigation has resulted in significant global settlement amounts, landmark cases, and ongoing litigation. Attorneys involved in the IVC filter mass tort litigation should stay informed and provide the best possible representation for their clients involved in this mass tort.
Transvaginal mesh is a medical device used to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in women.
To file a case against transvaginal mesh manufacturers in multidistrict litigation, law firms typically required legal intake centers verify the patient had undergone a revision surgery to remove the transvaginal mesh implant. Further, legal intake centers were usually required to list the symptoms required prior to surgery, which typically included mesh erosion, organ perforation, or chronic pain. Some legal client intake processes involved reviewing medical records, which often showed people who were obese to morbidly obese. These conditions could have led to exacerbated injuries. Nonetheless, the defendants get the injured claimants as they come.
Global Settlement Amounts: There have been several global settlements in transvaginal mesh litigation, with manufacturers agreeing to pay significant sums to resolve lawsuits. For example, in 2021, Boston Scientific agreed to pay $188.6 million to settle thousands of transvaginal mesh lawsuits. This settlement was a significant victory for the plaintiffs and demonstrated the impact of transvaginal mesh on individuals who have been affected by complications.
Landmark Cases: One notable case involved Johnson & Johnson, which reached a $116.9 million settlement to resolve thousands of transvaginal mesh lawsuits. The settlement was a significant victory for the plaintiffs and demonstrated the challenges of proving liability in transvaginal mesh mass tort litigation. In February 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a $344 million judgment against J&J in a lawsuit brought by the state of California accusing the company of concealing the risks of its pelvic mesh products. The court, following its usual practice, did not give any reason for refusing to hear J&J’s appeal.
J&J’s Market Exit of transvaginal mesh implants: Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and its subsidiary Ethicon previously halted sales of transvaginal mesh in 2012. In 2019, J&J and Ethicon agreed to pay $117 million to settle states’ transvaginal mesh marketing lawsuits. According to spokesman Matthew Johnson, J&J stopped making the devices because of “the commercial viability of these products in competitive and declining worldwide markets, the complexities of the regulatory environments in which we operate, and the availability of other treatment options for women.” At that time, the company decided not to issue any warnings for women who had the mesh implanted.
Manufacturers barred from selling mesh for surgical repair: In April 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered all manufacturers of surgical mesh intended for transvaginal repair of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) to stop selling and distributing their products immediately. The FDA determined that the manufacturers, Boston Scientific and Coloplast, did not demonstrate reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness for these devices, which is the premarket standard that now applies to transvaginal mesh for pelvic organ prolapse since the agency reclassified them into class III (high risk) in 2016. The FDA’s decision followed years of escalating actions to protect public health, including issuing safety communications, convening public meetings, and ordering postmarket surveillance studies.
In October 2022, the FDA reaffirmed its decision to ban transvaginal placement of surgical mesh for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse. The FDA’s decision was based on the lack of evidence to assure the safety and effectiveness of these devices. The FDA’s efforts on urogynecologic surgical mesh have focused on identifying benefit-risk concerns related to some of these devices, and strengthening the FDA’s regulatory oversight to protect patients, while enabling those who need these devices to benefit from them. The FDA’s decision to ban the future sales of transvaginal mesh implants was a significant victory for the plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of these devices.
Toxic Substances: PFAS, AFFF, Camp LeJeune
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” have been the subject of significant litigation in recent years, with municipalities filing lawsuits against manufacturers of these chemicals.
Traditional legal intake was not as prevalent in these cases because the plaintiffs were municipalities. This is more of a B2B process, whereas typical law firm client intake involves a B2C process. Legal intake specialists historically are trained to work with large numbers of individual patient-victims rather than government entities that were involved in this plaintiff pool. Law firm intake that was prevalent in claims related to PFAS were involved in the AFFF firefighting foam discussed below.
Here are some of the highlights of the PFAS mass tort litigation:
Health Complications: Exposure to PFAS has been linked to several types of cancer, infertility, and developmental issues in children, among other health concerns. The plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers knew for decades about the serious risks these chemicals posed to humans and the environment and actively deceived the public.
PFAS Awareness Goes Mainstream: In 1999, the EPA and 3M found that PFOS contamination is appearing at blood banks around the country. A movie was subsequently filmed about the true story of a farmer who sued DuPont after scores of his cattle mysteriously die in Parkersburg, West Virginia. It was revealed at trial that the nearby DuPont plant dumped tons of PFOA into a local landfill, poisoning the cattle’s water supply – and the Ohio River, polluting the drinking water of some 80,000 people. After the EPA findings, in 2012 the EPA directed large public water systems to test for PFAS. The results suggest that as many as 110 million Americans have been exposed to PFAS in their drinking water, according Environmental Working Group.
Municipalities’ Lawsuits: Several municipalities have filed lawsuits against manufacturers of PFAS, seeking to recover the costs of cleaning up contaminated water supplies. These lawsuits allege that the manufacturers knew about the risks associated with PFAS and failed to warn the public. According to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), some of the highest PFAS levels were detected in samples from major metropolitan areas, including Miami, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and New York City.
Notable Municipality Settlements: In 2021, 3M agreed to pay $850 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the state of Minnesota related to PFAS contamination.
3M and DuPont Announce Settlements for Municipalities: 3M and DuPont have made significant settlement announcements related to PFAS contamination. Here are the details of these settlements:
- Settlement Amount: 3M has agreed to a $10.3 billion settlement with a host of U.S. public water systems to resolve water pollution claims tied to PFAS contamination.
- Duration: The settlement will provide funds over a 13-year period to cities, towns, and other public water systems to test for and treat contamination from PFAS.
- Purpose: The funds will be used to support remediation efforts at public water systems that detect PFAS contamination at any level.
- Eligibility: Approximately 300 water systems that are plaintiffs in the case will benefit from the settlement.
- Admissions: At the time of publication of this article, 3M has not admitted liability as part of the settlement.
- Largest Drinking Water Settlement: The settlement is being hailed as the largest drinking water settlement in American history.
- Joint Settlement: DuPont, along with Chemours and Corteva, reached a $1.19 billion settlement agreement to help resolve claims related to PFAS contamination.
- Purpose: The settlement aims to address both current and future drinking-water claims brought by various public utilities.
- Admissions: At the time of publication of this article, DuPont and its spin-offs Chemours and Corteva have not admitted liability as part of the settlement.
These settlements mark significant steps in addressing the threat of PFAS chemicals and providing financial support for testing and remediation efforts in affected municipalities. The settlements demonstrate the recognition of the impact of PFAS contamination on public water supplies.
As of June 2022, 2,858 locations in 50 states and two territories are known to be contaminated with PFAS. PFAS contamination has been found in water, air, fish, and soil at locations across the nation and the globe. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals. The number of U.S. communities confirmed to be contaminated with the highly toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS continues to grow at an alarming rate.
AFFF Firefighting Foam
Mass tort legal intake for these claims involved working with individual firefighters who were filing claims in the same multidistrict litigation (MDL) as municipalities that filed claims for PFAS, which is related to AFFF firefighting foam. Standard qualifications legal intake call centers verified included exposure to the foam for at least 6 months, being diagnosed with a qualified cancer, detail about the work-related exposure (which included military firefighters, airport firefighters, and city firefighters), and no past or current legal representation in the matter. Although victims could include exposure to the carcinogenic foam due to close proximity to contaminated water supply, legal intake services typically focused on individual firefighters only.
AFFF firefighting foam is related to the PFAS lawsuits because the foam contains synthetic chemicals referred to as PFAS that pose serious health risks, including numerous types of cancer. Firefighters and other individuals exposed to firefighting foam may be at higher risk of developing certain cancers. This consolidation allows for more efficient handling of the cases and can lead to more consistent rulings across the cases. This appears to be a sensible approach because of the same questions of fact considering the unquestionably strong relationship between AFFF and PFAS.
AFFF in Military History: The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) began research on the development of firefighting foams in the 1960s, which led to advancements in fire suppression performance and increased firefighting safety. 1969: The U.S. Navy began using AFFF to fight fuel fires on ships. In the 1970s, the Department of Defense began using AFFF to fight fuel fires at all military installations, and AFFF was in use at most military bases, airports, refineries, and many civilian fire departments around the world. Moving towards the 2000s, the use of AFFF firefighting foam began to decline as concerns grew over the environmental and health risks associated with the chemicals used in the foam. At the time of this publication, AFFF firefighting foam is still used in some applications, but many fire departments and other organizations have switched to alternative firefighting methods that do not use PFAS chemicals. Non-fluorinated firefighting foam has been an important step towards firefighter safety as it relates to suppressing fuel-based fires.
Health Complications: Exposure to AFFF has been linked to several types of cancer, including kidney, testicular, pancreatic, bladder, leukemia, lymphoma, prostate, liver, breast, colorectal, and neuroendocrine tumors. Other ailments include fetal and child development issues. Hence, pregnant women exposed to AFFF may be at risk of adverse effects on their unborn children.
The plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers knew for decades about the serious risks these chemicals posed to firefighters and the environment and actively deceived the public. Reports are 3M generated internal studies that uncovered their employees had 1,000 times the standard level of PFAS toxins in their blood. Further, bioaccumulation of the contamination existed around their manufacturing plants. Yet, knowledge of the hazards and related harm was kept a secret for decades.
At the time of publication, there have not been any global settlements or landmark cases that stemmed from multidistrict litigation, at least as it relates to individual firefighters.
It is important to note that the scientific understanding of the health effects of AFFF exposure is still evolving, and further research is being conducted to better understand the extent of the risks.
Camp Lejeune, a U.S. military training base located in Jacksonville, North Carolina, has become a hot topic in recent years due to its history of contaminated water. The incident generated a stir because of the amount of legal advertising associated with the claims, as it bombarded all mediums for months.
Legal intake for this claim type required the most comprehensive and in-depth interviews for many reasons. For starters, law firm intake could require an interview of the claimant with over 100 questions. Additionally, many victims were deceased. Hence, law firm intake specialists had to display empathy while they guided authorized next of kin to recall the details of their loved one’s military experience and health complications. Further, the two-step process involved in this legislative-based claim was more complicated, which required law firm client intake call center agents be well-versed on the path mass tort attorneys would pursue to obtain benefits and settlements or awards. Overall, this tort may have been among the most challenging for companies offering law firm call center services because of the comprehensiveness of the legal intake process, distance in time from the origin of injury, and decades in time that may have passed since a deceased may have passed from the toxins from Camp LeJeune.
As many people know, over 800,000 gallons of fuel and industrial solvents leaked into the water supply at the base camp and the government actively concealed it from the public. It has become known as the worst public drinking-water contamination in American history.
After years of claims being denied from the contamination, Congress finally passed the Honoring our PACT Act that included the Camp LeJeune Justice Act.
History of Water Contamination at Camp LeJeune: From the 1950s to the 1980s, the water supply at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with toxic chemicals, including benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), and perchloroethylene (PCE). One of the more well-known sources of contamination originated from a dry cleaner that opened around 1953 about two miles from the base. Wastewater was dumped through an on-site septic system uphill from the base’s water supplies. Another source was the degreasers and cleaning supplies used to clean military equipment. Finally, fuel leaks may have been the largest source of contamination.
History of Litigation: Although there are reports of a 2005 case being filed, perhaps as an individual case, the first multi-plaintiff lawsuit due to failure to warn about the contamination by the U.S. Government started in 2007. The suit was filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act and was dismissed based upon the North Carolina statute of repose. The claims were revived in 2009 when and MDL was approved. However, the court dismissed all plaintiffs’ claims in 2016 based upon the U.S. Supreme court’s Feres Doctrine, the Discretionary Function Exception, and North Carolina’s statute of repose. After lengthy political wrangling and pursuit by attorney Ed Bell, Congress passed and President Biden signed the Honoring our PACT Act in August of 2022. The Act included the Camp LeJeune Justice Act of 2022 in Section 804 of the PACT Act.
Although not a multidistrict litigation, in July of 2023 the four judges presiding over the claims in North Carolina selected seven attorneys to a leadership committee, which substantially reflected the organization and consolidation of a multidistrict litigation.
Health Complications Associated with Camp LeJeune: Shortly after President Biden signed the PACT Act, attorneys commonly referred to the ailments in three tiers. Tier 1 was based upon the ailments identified by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a government agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency concluded there was sufficient scientific relationship between the contaminant isn’t he Camp LeJeune water and the following ten diseases: kidney cancer, non-Hodkinson’s Lymphoma, multiple myeloma, leukemia, liver cancer, bladder cancer, Parkinson’s disease, end-stage renal disease, systematic sclerosis/scleroderma, and cardiac birth defects. Importantly, the law read that it was presumed the toxic water was the cause of those ten diseases on the lowest standard in civil law: at least as likely as not, or 50% chance the disease originated from the contaminated water. Tier 2 included other diseases the Veterans Administration (VA) acknowledged as being potentially related to the water, which included female infertility, miscarriage, lung cancer, esophageal cancer, myelodysplastic syndromes, hepatic steatosis, and neurobehavioral effects. Tier 3 consisted of other ailments water contamination attorneys believed they could prove resulted from the toxins at Camp LeJeune.
According to the PACT Act, prospective claimants have until August 10, 2024 to file a claim. The process is a two-step version that initially starts by filing a claim for VA benefits with the Navy JAG who has 6 months to deny, grant, or do nothing. Either way, the second step is to sue the U.S. Government that is defended by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The tort is still ongoing at the time of publication since the seven-member leadership panel was chosen days prior to publication.
As with other torts, by identifying potential clients with specific health complications, law firm intake services have assisted law firms build stronger cases and achieve better outcomes for their clients.