Mass torts are quite unique legal situations; there are many plaintiffs on one case, versus a single defendant. These lawsuits often are some of the most important that a law firm can take one, particularly in terms of the revenue.
In 2019, there are several new or ongoing mass torts to keep an eye on this year. By keeping track of the status of each case, you will be better prepared to service any mass tort leads that come into your office.
The opioid epidemic in America has gotten worse in the last decade. Many people in all demographic groups are being ravaged by opioid addiction. According to the CDC, the opioid problem has led to large numbers of deaths. Consider the data. (CDC.gov):
- From 1999 to 2017, at least 700,000 people died from drug overdoses.
- Approximately 70% of the 70,200 overdose deaths in 2017 were due to an opioid.
- In 2017, the number of deaths from opioids, this includes both prescription and illegal opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl, was six times higher than 1999.
- 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day.
- CDC estimates the economic burden of opioid misuse in the US is $78 billion per year. This includes the cost of health care, loss of work productivity, addiction treatment programs and the involvement of law enforcement.
Given the scope of the opioid problem, more state courts are seeing more lawsuits being filed against major manufacturers and distributors of these drugs. Lawsuits have been filed in federal courts. Also, mass torts on opioids have been filed against Big Pharma in 22 states and Puerto Rico.
All opioid lawsuits have been consolidated into centralized multidistrict litigation: It is titled Opiate MDL 2804. It may take years, but there is a solid chance that this mass tort case will eventually hit a courtroom. There will be millions of opioid addiction victims who could be affected if there is a settlement or the court decides a payout is required.
FDA recently initiated a recall for Valsartan because it contains impurities that could cause cancer in some patients. Valsartan is a common medication used for heart conditions that is prescribed all over the US to heart patients. FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) stated the drug has failed to meet CDER’s required standards for safety. Because of the possible injuries that can be caused by taking Valsartan orally, the drug recall has led to many mass torts being filed. (FDA.gov).
The July 2018 FDA recall for Valsartan stated that the impurities in the drug are called N-nitrosodimethylamine or NDMA. It is believed to lead to enhanced risk of cancer in humans and animals. NDMA is an organic type of chemical that is carcinogenic and toxic, especially when combined with water. The EPA states the safe limit for human ingestion of NDMA is 96 nanograms. FDA has investigated the lots of faulty valsartan and showed that the recalled lots of drugs are above safe levels.
The litigation is still in the first stages, but this is a good time to begin to obtain Valsartan cases, or even to initiate a mass tort campaign.
#3 Talcum Powder
This mass tort case has resulted in multi million dollar settlements for some clients. It is likely there will be many more in the coming years. Many lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson stating that its baby powder and similar products may have had small amounts of asbestos that can cause cancer. Some of the cancers include mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.
According to Cancer.org, it has been suggested that the powder can lead to cancer in the ovaries if the particles of powder, which may be applied to the genitals on sanitary napkins, condoms or diaphragms, can travel to the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes and to the ovaries. There have been many studies conducted in this area. To this point the findings are mixed. Some have shown a small increase in risk and others no risk. There also have been several case control studies that indicate a small increase in risk. (Cancer.org).
A recent report stated that Johnson & Johnson was aware of the asbestos in baby powder for many years. So, it is likely that mass tort cases will get to a courtroom eventually.
#4 Monsanto Roundup
Roundup is an effective weed killer that has been used in agriculture for decades to improve crop yields. Many studies have shown that traces of Roundup weedkiller and its key ingredient glyphosate have been detected in small amounts in more than 50% of food products that are eaten in the US. The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. That led to more than 5,000 lawsuits against Monsanto in the US.
One of the most well-known Roundup lawsuits to date was in summer 2018 in San Francisco, where a jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million to a groundskeeper in San Francisco. The jury deliberated for almost three days before finding that the man’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma was at least somewhat due to his regular exposure to glyphosate, which is the primary ingredient in Roundup. The man used the chemical regular to spray athletic fields at the school at which he worked. The jury determined that Monsanto acted with oppression, malice and/or fraud and should be punished. (USAToday.com).
There has been some evidence uncovered that the company might even have known of the possible risks of Roundup for years. There currently are many Roundup trials still pending in state and federal courts. It is likely that a mass tort case will eventually occur, although there is no trial date at this time.
#5 Hernia Mesh
Hernia mesh is used to make repairs to torn hernias and similar injuries. It is more and more a mass tort target because of very high product failure rates. There have been many smaller lawsuits in the courts in recent years, but most have now been combined into the Bard MDL 2846 case.
According to Mass Tort Nexus, there could be more than 42,000 potentially new failures each year. This reflects the amount of possible cases that are filed into that MDL. Some of the hearings were conducted in 2108. Litigation is likely to occur in the next two years. This is one of the mass torts with the most growth potential in 2019.
Some of the common problems with hernia mesh that can lead to a lawsuit are: (FDA.gov).
- Adhesions can form so that the mesh and bowel are stuck together. This can also happen if the coated mesh is put in to fix ventral hernias.
- If an inguinal hernia is repaired with mesh, there can be serious leg, groin and testicular pain.
- The adhesion problem can sometimes result in the bowel being obstructed. It might be noticed when the person notices a change in bowel habits or they cannot defecate normally.
- If there is abdominal pain in the patient who has the mesh, it might be a sign of the adhesion occurring.
Mass tort cases can drive huge quantities of business to your company. If you want to initiate a marketing campaign to drive mass tort leads, it is important to work with a solid legal answering service to assist you in capturing each lead that comes in so you can maximize your ROI in marketing.
- Talcum Powder and Cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html
- Jury Orders Monsanto to Pay $289 Million. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/08/10/jury-orders-monsanto-pay-289-million-cancer-patient-roundup-lawsuit/962297002/
- Drug Overdose Epidemic. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html
- FDA Drug Recalls. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm629213.htm