Articles Posted in Product Liability

Juul-pic-1024x724Things keep getting worse for e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, Inc.  In the midst of a wave of vaping illnesses sweeping the nation, the leading U.S. vaping company is under fire. Juul is currently the subject of a federal investigation and multiple lawsuits targeting its marketing practices to underage users. It has recently undergone a shakeup in its corporate leadership and faces a flurry of legislation at the state level attempting to restrict or ban its flavored “pods,” which have become wildly popular among America’s youth.

Now the mountain of mass-tort litigation Juul is facing will be consolidated in a multi-district litigation (MDL) in federal court in San Francisco, where the company is headquartered.  Attorneys for Juul and for some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits had requested an MDL in a hearing before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Los Angeles, which decides if similar federal court cases around the country would best be handled in a single court.

In early October, the panel agreed to create an MDL and centralize all pending federal cases against Juul in the court of U.S. District Judge William Orrick of the Northern District of California, who was already overseeing a class-action lawsuit brought against Juul in 2018 by 44 plaintiffs from 22 states.

Roundup Weed Killer Causes CancerMonsanto has recently been on the wrong end of several major jury verdicts in lawsuits relating to its product Roundup. Plaintiffs have filed suit against the company, alleging that the weed killer was responsible for cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Last year, a terminally ill California man was awarded $ 289 million by a California jury. This was followed by other large verdicts, as juries have reacted viscerally to evidence of Monsanto’s corporate behavior. Now, the company faces many other lawsuits while simultaneously appealing the jury verdicts with which it was already hit.

Roundup has been used as a pesticide for many years, starting with its introduction in 1974. The product was viewed to be a safer alternative to the pesticide DDT. However, there were reports starting in the early part of this century that the product could cause cancer. By 2015, the World Health Organization concluded that glyphosate-based products were “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Nonetheless, the EPA continues to cling to the belief that glyphosate is entirely safe and will not take steps to regulate sales of the product. The regulatory agency will not entertain the mounting evidence to the contrary in reevaluating its opinion.

The first lawsuits began to go in front of juries within the past couple of years. The watershed case was heard in California. The plaintiff was a man named Dewayne Johnson who was terminally ill with cancer. Johnson was a groundskeeper for the school district and had used Roundup for years. Now he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Of particular interest to the jury was Monsanto’s record of corporate behavior. Rather than objectively assess whether its product was safe, the company attempted to place a finger on the scale by influencing the scientific debate over the possible danger associated with Roundup.

Talc Powder and Increase in Ovarian CancerJohnson & Johnson has faced widespread legal exposure relating to its flagship talc powder product. In the past several years, juries in state court have found that talc powder was to blame for ovarian cancer and have assessed the company with steep damages. This culminated with a multi-billion dollar verdict in favor of a group of plaintiffs in Missouri. Now, there is federal multi-district litigation that is making its way through the discovery phase. Since the case is largely based on scientific evidence, a recent hearing may prove crucial to plaintiffs’ chances for success when the bellwether cases go to trial.

The allegations that Johnson & Johnson faces stem from the fact that there is at least some scientific evidence that its talc powder contains traces of asbestos. Talc and asbestos occurring near each other naturally in the ground so it is entirely possible, and perhaps probable, that where one is found, the other will be present too. This has been an issue that has been debated scientifically for decades. The company has been a part of the debate, attempting to influence the scientific research to show that its talc powder is safe. Regardless, the company has known about the possibility that its talc powder could pose a danger to users going as far back as the 1950s.

There have been numerous lawsuits brought against the company by women (and even some men) who have been long-term users of the product and have contracted various forms of cancer. Most of these lawsuits have been filed in federal court, but some trials have taken place in state court. Notably, a group of 23 women sued Johnson & Johnson in state court in Missouri. In 2018, the jury returned a verdict, finding the company liable and assessing the company with $4.7 billion in damages. Much of the award was in the form of punitive damages as the jury was put off by the pattern of corporate behavior, insofar as the company has known of the potential danger of the product yet has focused its efforts on influencing the scientific debate.

Cooking Spray ExplosionsCooking spray seems to be an innocuous kitchen product that puts oil in a form that is convenient to use. However, like any spray product, there are dangers associated with the product since the contents are under pressure. Recently, there have been several lawsuits that have been filed by the manufacturers of Pam cooking spray that were all filed on the same day.

The plaintiffs suffered injury when cans of this cooking spray exploded, leaving them with serious disfiguring injuries. The lawsuits claim that there is a defect in the product that caused them to explode, although the company maintains that its products are safe and any explosions must have been due to improper use.

One of the overlooked complications associated with using cooking sprays in the kitchen is that they are used on or in close proximity to stoves. This heats contents that are already under pressure and makes them even more potentially dangerous. Specifically, Pam contains propellants designed to make the product spray through the vents. The company will not reveal exactly what these propellants are, but the lawsuits claim that they are propane and butane. All the company says is that the propellants are food grade and have been approved by the FDA. However, when heated, these propellants can become explosive.

The McDonald's Coffee Cup Case

Introduction to an Infamous Personal Injury Lawsuit Controversy:

A normal woman in a small town drives up to a McDonald’s and orders a cup of coffee. The rest is history. In the weeks and months to follow this encounter, great controversy would swirl around this woman and her latte. Television shows, pundits, and politicians across the country debated the matter vigorously. A documentary was even produced depicting the incident (called Hot Coffee). Yet, what actually happened?

On February 27, 1992, Stella Liebeck, 79 years old, pulled into the drive-through of a McDonald’s restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico and ordered a cup of coffee. It only cost her 49 cents but it serving her that drink would cost the restaurant a lot more than that when it was all said and done. Stella was not actually driving; her grandson, Chris, was driving his 1989 Ford Probe.

Politely, Chris pulled into a parking space so that his grandmother could add cream and sugar to her coffee. In the process, some of it spilled out of the cup and onto her groin, burning her butt and thighs. She was only wearing cotton pants and they did not effectively guard her from the high temperatures of the coffee (said to be over 180 °F).

Quickly, she was rushed to the hospital where doctors determined she had suffered third-degree burns on a small part of her body. She stayed at the hospital a little over a week where she received skin grafting. The incident left her with significant weight loss, permanent disfigurement, and disability for years to come.

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Dehumidifier Manufacturer to Blame in Home FireThe last thing on any consumer’s mind when purchasing household appliances is the question of whether the device poses a viable risk of destroying property or endangering lives. In a recent lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania, two plaintiffs are seeking compensation after malfunctioning dehumidifiers purchased from Heat Controller, Inc. resulted in a household fire in their home. The fire occurred in June of last year and the lawsuit was filed in December. It is currently alleged that poor quality control standards and the failure of Heat Controller, Inc. to properly inspect its products before placing them on the market are to blame for the damages suffered in the incident.

Case Removed to US District Court

Christopher Taylor and Nancy Strohm, the plaintiffs, are seeking over $175,000 as compensation following an estimate from their insurance carrier. The amount of compensation being sought exceeds the $75,000 threshold for federal jurisdiction and the case has been removed to the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania as a result, with proceedings beginning on January 30, 2015. At the moment, it is not known whether Heat Controller, Inc. has offered or would be open to an out of court settlement.

Complications from Laser Hair RemovalBotox, tummy tucks and laser hair removal are becoming some of the most sought-after cosmetic treatments. At one point in time, only wealthy members of society could afford the occasional Botox treatment or laser skin treatment. Today, these types of cosmetic services have become commonplace in American society. Medical and cosmetic boards continue to grapple with licensing issues and have not yet determined whether a doctor must perform these procedures. Spas, physical therapy centers, salons and independent contractors continue to deliver laser skin services with little oversight and regulation by government authorities.

The Increased Risk of Skin Damage

Laser cosmetic services are now more popular than ever for individuals who want to avoid the invasiveness of facelifts and facial surgeries. Often, individuals fail to consider all of the risks that are associated with laser cosmetic services. Non-doctors may not be aware of the power of lasers and the damage that they can cause to skin. They may not inform consumers of these risks. Dr. Jalian is a lead dermatology researcher at the University of California-Los Angeles, and he has found that laser procedures can cause significant harm if they are not administered in the proper fashion. Consumers may suffer from serious skin burns and cell damage as a result of intense laser lights. Consumers should also be aware that they may experience a hot feeling on their skin after receiving laser services.

Death associated with bad pumpThe Uses of SynchroMed Infusion Pump Systems

Infusion pumps are used to administer intravenous infusions of nutrients, fluids and medications to patients. Infusion pumps are used in clinical and hospital settings. Patients require an infusion pump to treat chronic pain and spasticity. Doctors also use infusion systems for patients who are suffering from a coma or during chemotherapy treatments. While these infusion systems may appear to be life-sustaining measures, recent research indicates that they are causing extreme pain and harm in the lives of patients.

Currently, 14 deaths have been linked to the SynchroMed infusion systems manufactured by Medtronic Inc. since 1996. Over 200,000 SynchroMed infusion systems have been used throughout the world. Those who have used the SynchroMed infusion pump may wish to consult with a personal injury lawyer about their legal rights if they have been injured as a result of the pump system. Those who have lost loved ones due to the SynchroMed infusion pump system may also have legal recourse.