An Overview of Current Active Mass Tort Cases

by | Jul 1, 2024 | Mass Tort News, Multidistrict Litigation, Personal Injury, Product Liability

At Kherkher Garcia, our national mass tort attorneys consistently monitor and track developments in various mass tort cases, including class action MDLs pending in federal courts. We observe the volume of new cases filed or transferred into each MDL, identify trends in new case filings, and keep abreast of the status of bellwether trials, discovery, and other legal proceedings. Additionally, we closely follow mass tort settlement amounts.

In recent years, several mass tort cases have garnered significant attention due to the number of affected individuals and the severity of the alleged damages. Here, the personal injury attorneys at Kherkher Garcia summarize some of the most notable mass tort cases currently in the legal spotlight.

An Overview of Mass Tort Litigation

Mass tort litigation involves legal actions where a large number of plaintiffs file lawsuits against one or a few defendants, usually corporations, for harm caused by common actions or products. Unlike class action lawsuits, where a single case represents a group, mass torts allow individual plaintiffs to retain separate legal representation and pursue individual claims.

Key Characteristics

  • Multiple Plaintiffs: Numerous individuals harmed by the same product, action, or event.
  • Common Issues: Centralized around a common issue, such as defective products, pharmaceuticals, environmental disasters, or consumer fraud.
  • Individual Claims: Plaintiffs have individual cases, but the cases are often consolidated for pretrial proceedings to improve efficiency.

Phases of Mass Tort Litigation

  • Filing and Consolidation: Individual plaintiffs file lawsuits which are often consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) for pretrial processes.
  • Discovery: Both sides gather evidence, including documents, depositions, and expert testimonies.
  • Bellwether Trials: Selected cases go to trial to help gauge the potential outcomes of other similar cases.
  • Settlement or Trial: Many cases settle before trial, but some proceed to court, where verdicts can influence future settlements.

Common Examples

  • Pharmaceuticals: Claims against drug manufacturers for side effects or injuries caused by medications.
  • Medical Devices: Litigation over defective medical implants or devices.
  • Environmental Torts: Cases involving exposure to harmful chemicals or pollutants.
  • Consumer Products: Claims related to defective or dangerous consumer products.

Mass tort litigation plays a crucial role in holding corporations accountable for widespread harm, providing a mechanism for injured individuals to seek compensation, and promoting corporate responsibility and public safety.

Notable Active Mass Tort Cases

Some of the most notable active mass tort cases we are following include:

Opioid Litigation

The opioid crisis has precipitated one of the largest and most complex mass tort litigations in U.S. history. Pharmaceutical companies, distributors, and pharmacy chains are being sued for their roles in the opioid epidemic, which has caused widespread addiction, overdoses, and deaths. Major companies like Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, and McKesson Corporation are central figures in these lawsuits.

Key Points

  • Settlement and Bankruptcy: Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, filed for bankruptcy and reached a settlement that could potentially be worth over $10 billion.
  • Public Nuisance Claims: Many of the lawsuits are based on the claim that these companies created a public nuisance by flooding communities with opioids.
  • Widespread Impact: The litigation involves thousands of lawsuits consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Ohio.

Roundup Weed Killer Litigation

Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, faces thousands of lawsuits alleging that its glyphosate-based weed killer, Roundup, causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Plaintiffs claim that Monsanto knew about the cancer risks but failed to warn users.

Key Points

  • Jury Verdicts: Several high-profile jury verdicts have awarded plaintiffs multi-million-dollar settlements, finding that Roundup was a substantial factor in causing cancer.
  • Scientific Controversy: The litigation hinges on conflicting scientific studies about glyphosate’s carcinogenicity.
  • Settlement Efforts: Bayer has agreed to pay billions to settle existing claims while still facing new lawsuits.

Talcum Powder Litigation

Johnson & Johnson has been embroiled in litigation over allegations that its talcum powder products contain asbestos and cause ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed, with varying outcomes in court.

Key Points

  • Jury Awards: Some plaintiffs have been awarded significant damages, while others have had their cases dismissed.
  • Scientific Evidence: The cases involve debates over the presence of asbestos in talc and its link to cancer.
  • Bankruptcy Strategy: J&J has attempted to manage the litigation through a controversial bankruptcy strategy, creating a subsidiary to handle the claims.

3M Combat Arms Earplugs Litigation

3M faces litigation from military veterans who allege that its Combat Arms Earplugs were defective, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. These earplugs were standard issue for U.S. military personnel from 2003 to 2015.

Key Points

  • MDL in Florida: The cases are consolidated in an MDL in Florida, where bellwether trials have taken place.
  • Verdict Variability: Some trials have resulted in significant verdicts for plaintiffs, while others have favored 3M.
  • Potential Settlement: With thousands of claims, 3M is under pressure to consider a global settlement.

PFAS Contamination Litigation

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals found in various consumer products and firefighting foams. PFAS contamination in water supplies has led to numerous lawsuits against manufacturers like 3M and DuPont.

Key Points

  • Health Risks: PFAS exposure is linked to cancer, liver damage, and other health issues.
  • Widespread Contamination: PFAS contamination affects water supplies across the U.S., leading to numerous lawsuits.
  • Regulatory Actions: Increased regulatory scrutiny and evolving science on PFAS are influencing the litigation.

Zantac Litigation

Zantac (ranitidine) was a popular heartburn medication until it was discovered that it could produce N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable human carcinogen. This led to recalls and a flurry of lawsuits.

Key Points

  • Recall and Market Withdrawal: Zantac was recalled and pulled from the market in 2020.
  • Cancer Claims: Plaintiffs allege that NDMA exposure from Zantac caused various cancers.
  • Legal Developments: The litigation is in its early stages, with significant legal battles over scientific evidence and causation.

JUUL E-Cigarette Litigation

JUUL Labs faces lawsuits from individuals and governments alleging that its marketing practices contributed to the youth vaping epidemic and caused nicotine addiction and other health problems.

Key Points

  • Youth Marketing: Plaintiffs allege that JUUL targeted young people with its advertising and flavored products.
  • Health Effects: The litigation focuses on the addictive nature of nicotine and potential long-term health impacts.
  • Regulatory Scrutiny: JUUL’s products have faced increasing regulatory scrutiny and bans in several jurisdictions.

Paragard IUD Litigation

The Paragard intrauterine device (IUD) has been the subject of lawsuits alleging that it can break during removal, causing severe injuries to women.

Key Points

  • Product Defects: Plaintiffs claim that the device is defectively designed and prone to breakage.
  • Injury Claims: Injuries reported include broken pieces of the IUD becoming embedded in the uterus or other organs.
  • Litigation Status: The litigation is ongoing, with cases being filed across the country.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination MDL

The Camp Lejeune water contamination litigation involves claims by former residents and employees of the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina, who allege exposure to toxic chemicals in the water supply from the 1950s to the 1980s caused serious health issues, including cancer and birth defects.

Key Points

  • Contaminants: The water was contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), as well as benzene and vinyl chloride.
  • Health Impacts: Plaintiffs claim exposure led to various cancers, neurological disorders, and other serious health conditions.
  • Legislation: The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 allows affected individuals to file claims for damages.
  • Current Status: Thousands of claims have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Bard Hernia Mesh MDL

The Bard hernia mesh litigation involves claims against C.R. Bard, a medical device manufacturer, alleging that its hernia mesh products are defective and have caused serious injuries and complications in patients who underwent hernia repair surgery.

Key Points

  • Product Issues: Plaintiffs allege that Bard’s hernia mesh products can degrade, shrink, or migrate within the body, leading to severe complications like chronic pain, infection, and organ damage.
  • Products Involved: Specific products include Bard’s Ventralex, Perfix, and 3DMax hernia mesh devices.
  • Litigation Status: The cases are consolidated into an MDL in the Southern District of Ohio. Several bellwether trials have taken place, with mixed outcomes for plaintiffs and defendants.
  • Settlement Efforts: Bard has faced pressure to settle the numerous claims, but the litigation is ongoing with new cases still being filed.

Mass tort cases are complex and multifaceted, often involving intricate scientific, medical, and legal issues. The outcomes of these cases can have significant implications for public health, corporate accountability, and regulatory policies. As these notable cases progress, they will continue to shape the landscape of mass tort litigation and highlight the ongoing challenges in balancing consumer protection with corporate interests.

Have Questions about a Mass Tort Case?

Navigating the complexities of a mass tort case can be daunting. If you or a loved one have suffered harm from a defective product, medication, or environmental hazard, you likely have many questions. Understanding your rights, the legal process, and potential compensation is crucial.

At Kherkher Garcia, our experienced personal injury attorneys are here to provide clarity and support. We can explain the specifics of your case, the status of current litigation, and the steps involved in pursuing a claim. Whether you’re wondering about eligibility, the timeline of proceedings, or the likelihood of a settlement, we offer the guidance you need.

Reach out to our team for a comprehensive free consultation and take the first step towards justice and recovery. To get started, call us at 713-333-1030, or complete our online contact form.

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Jesus Garcia

Jesus Garcia

Founding Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Founding Firm Partner Jesus Garcia. Jesus has been a practicing injury lawyer for more than 20 years. He has won $150 Million+ in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. He is a force of nature in the courtroom and the trial lawyer you want on your side if you or a loved one have been seriously injured at work or on the road. Abogado Jesus Garcia is bilingual and passionate about being the voice in the courtroom for the spanish speaking community here in Houston, across the state of Texas, and throughout the Nation.

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