10 Mass Tort Cases to Watch in 2020

A mass tort lawsuit is a civil action involving many plaintiffs with few defendants in state or federal court. Mass torts are very similar to class action cases. Both sue companies for injuries or illnesses that a lot of people experience from using the same product. Mass tort cases are cases for people that claim injuries caused by defective products, prescription drugs, product liability, medical devices, pollution, or an avoidable disaster. Now we are about a quarter way through the calendar year and there are some specific mass tort cases you will most likely see in the news. Read on to find out more about the top 9 mass tort cases to watch in 2020.

1. Zantac Ranitidine

The Zantac drug and its active ingredient ranitidine have been under the microscope for the past few years. Zantac comes in two forms, prescription or over the counter. People use the over-the-counter version of Zantac is to treat mild cases of heartburn. Others use prescription Zantac to treat ulcers and other more severe intestinal problems, which is typically stronger. The medication has been under multiple studies to prove it is harmful to humans. Additionally, people have filed many lawsuits accusing Zantac responsible for their development of certain cancers.

On April 1st, 2020, the FDA announced the removal of all over the counter and prescription drugs that contain ranitidine which includes Zantac. Scientists have found large amounts of NDMA in ranitidine. They have found that when the temperature of NDMA rises, it rises the impurity of the drug. NDMA is now classified as a probable human carcinogen which means it can cause cancer in humans. Because of this, the FDA has now sent out urgent requests for all manufacturers and retailers to remove Zantac from their product line. They have also advised anyone currently taking the drug to dispose of them safely.

Because of the recall, you will most likely see more Zantac mass tort lawsuits developing throughout 2020. Furthermore, people are developing cancers of all kinds claiming Zantac could be the cause. These cancers include:

  • Liver cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Small and large intestine cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Pancreatic cancer

If you took Zantac either prescribed or over the counter and developed some type of cancer, contact an experienced mass tort lawyer today.

2. Monsanto’s Roundup

Roundup is a popular herbicide that many farmers and gardeners use to kill weeds surrounding crops. Its main active ingredient is glyphosate, which has been continuously studied if it is potentially harmful to humans. Monsanto’s Roundup produces most of the glyphosate-based herbicide used around the world. Over the past decade, people have made numerous claims that humans exposed to the chemical compound have developed severe illnesses. These include cancers, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and even birth defects. Since then, the EPA has denied that glyphosate causes cancer. But since then, many have tried to prove otherwise through research.

In 2015, the World Health Organization declared that the chemical called glyphosate, in Roundup® is “probably carcinogenic to humans”. Since then, over 40,000 people have filed lawsuits against Monsanto’s Roundup. People who claim they have developed severe illnesses from their exposure to glyphosate have been the ones to file. So far, judges have awarded people around $80 million.

In January 2020, glyphosate was reapproved by the EPA allowing manufacturers to keep using the chemical in their retail products. Since the re-approval, multiple parties including the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Pesticide Action Network, and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) have filed lawsuits against the EPA for reapproving the chemical. Companies producing products with glyphosate like Roundup you will most likely see as a main mass tort case in 2020.

3. JUUL e-Cigarettes

JUUL has been under fire for the past 5 years for many reasons, but the main reason is their attraction towards teens. When JUUL came out, they marketed their product as a “safe alternative to cigarettes” or something people can use to quit smoking. But JUUL then took an alternative turn to their marketing technique which was evidently targeting the younger generations. The JUUL rapidly became very popular amongst kids and teens with their fun flavors, minimal odor/vapor, and sleek designs. JUUL came in flavors like fruit punch, mango, mint, and crème brulee. Since the JUUL, teen vaping figures have had a 14% increase just in the past 3 years. Because of this, minor nicotine addiction has drastically risen.

Many people are currently prosecuting JUUL for targeting teens and children. People are claiming JUUL does this by enticing them to buy their products through advertising and social media. Evidently, they would advertise their product as something “cool” or “fashionable”. Because of this, children and teens have begun adopting new nicotine addiction at a young age. Parents and health professionals across the country have now made it a purpose to fight youth nicotine addiction by bringing awareness to the public.

At the beginning of 2020, the FDA created a new law banning flavored e-cigarettes refillable cartridges. This was the first step in combating teen vaping caused by JUUL. Many parents and children are coming forward with their stories about their personal experiences with teen JUUL addiction. You will most likely see this mass tort case popping up more frequently in 2020.

4. Firefighting Foam

Firefighting foam is a very new mass tort case that you probably have not heard of but is becoming more apparent. Aqueous Film Forming Foam or AFFF suppresses Class A and Class B fires, but mostly chemical fires, at a rapid pace. AFFF works by cutting off the oxygen supply of the fires and diminishing it much faster than just water. You will see AFFF used by a lot of people including the military, firefighters, and people with at-home fire extinguishers. But research is showing that if AFFF gets on your skin, you might be absorbing toxic particles from the foam.

Almost every time someone uses the foam, they use it in large amounts. When you blast the foam out onto the fire, there is a high chance you may get it on you, anyone, or anything surrounding the area. This puts people at high risk for absorption. Scientists have discovered that AFFF has harmful properties and can possibly be toxic to humans. The FDA has shown the toxic elements within AFFF and how it is affecting humans. Furthermore, they claim that PFAS within the foam is what is the main culprit for being harmful to people. There are many types and kinds of PFAS, but some PFAS may cause negative side effects if absorbed including:

  • Fertility issues and pregnancy-induced hypertension/preeclampsia
  • Increased cholesterol
  • Changes in the immune system
  • Increased risk of certain cancers
  • Changes in fetal and child development
  • Liver damage
  • Increased risk of thyroid disease
  • Increased risk of asthma

Because of this, many lawyers are representing people who have suffered from their exposure to the foam. There are many claims people are developing cancers from their exposure to AFFF. Some of these cancers include

  • Testicular
  • Breast
  • Prostate
  • Pancreatic
  • Kidney

5. 3M Earplugs

In 2003, the United States military purchased a line of earplugs from 3M that were specially created for them to use in battle. The 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs were designed to have dual features for soldiers to block out loud sounds (explosives) but also be able to hear quieter sounds (communication). For over 10 years, military soldiers have been using them in combat to safely block out harmful sound. But, the earplugs were indeed defective causing major hearing damage to those who used them.

In 2018, 3M paid $9.1 million to resolve accusations regarding the defective earplugs. But, none of the $9.1 million went to veterans and others that developed hearing damage and/or other medical issues caused by the defective 3M earplug. 3M was allegedly completely aware of the defect and still issued the earplugs to the military anyways. Because of this, 3M is completely liable if you or a loved one developed hearing damaging from using the earplugs in combat. Some of the reported symptoms of hearing loss/ damage include:

  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Ringing sounds in the ears
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Tinnitus
  • Difficulty sleep or concentrating
  • Difficulty understanding speech over the phone
  • Hypersensitivity to certain sounds (certain sounds are very bothersome or create pain)

6. Talc

Talcum powder is a natural mineral that companies use for many products. These products include cosmetics, deodorants, and baby powder. Over the years, talcum powder has been studied to test if it is harmful to humans, specifically cancer. Additionally, scientists have found traces of asbestos within talc samples, which is a human carcinogen. Since then, people have made many claims that they developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma from using talcum products.

Over the years, many people have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson for their baby powder products containing talc. There have been tests made that have found traces of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder for over almost 50 years and they were allegedly completely aware of it. Johnson and Johnson have denied these theories and say their baby powder products were “safe and asbestos-free”. But on October 18th, 2019 Johnson & Johnson issued a voluntary recall of their baby powder product after the FDA sampled it and tested it sample positive for asbestos. Furthermore, on April 27, 2020, a federal judge ruled on the reliability of plaintiffs’ experts testifying about whether baby powder causes ovarian cancer and has admitted them in potentially more than 16,000 lawsuits.

Additionally, in May 2020, Johnson and Johnson announced they are pulling all their talc based baby powder products from the U.S. and Canada markets. In their statement, they claim to pull the product because of a decline in sales. Johnson and Johnson also claim that their decline in sales is because many people are filing lawsuits against them concerning talc which they believe to be “misinformation”. They continue to “vigorously defend” that their product is safe and does not cause cancer. Because of this voluntary recall, you will most likely see many developing mass tort cases in 2020 regarding talc and Johnson & Johnson.

7. Essure

Essure is a permanently implanted birth control device made by Bayer Healthcare and has been on the market since 2002. Many women have been using Essure to prevent themselves from getting pregnant. But, on December 31, 2018, Bayer stopped selling and distributing the Essure device in the United States. After one year, all unused Essure units were ordered to be returned back to Bayer. But women that already had it implanted were allowed to continue to use it.

But even before Essure has stopped production, there have been many claims by women the device was causing them serious harm and complications. By July 2018, about 16,000 filed lawsuits filed by women that said Essure caused them severe harm. These injuries included abdominal pain, genital hemorrhage, device dislocation, uterus perforation, and device breakage. Since then more and more people are filing cases against Bayer claiming they developed these injuries. In January 2020, an Indiana court ruled in favor of 30 women who are proceeding to sue Bayer for their Essure birth control device. The women claimed to have many of the listed common injuries. Evidently, the Indiana courts ruled that these women may proceed with their cases and the claim is not preempted.

Because Bayer decided to discontinue the product very recently, we will most likely see multiple Essure mass tort lawsuits begin to pop up in 2020.

8. Hernia Mesh

A hernia mesh is a medical device that doctors implant into the stomach or groin. It treats hernias by supporting the weakened tissue. People have been using surgical mesh devices for over 50 years, repairing and preventing certain injuries. In fact, more than 80% of hernia repairs performed in the United States used mesh products. But in the most recent years, there have been many studies on hernia mesh’s to prove they are causing serious harm to people. Reported side effects from the use of hernia mesh include

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Hernia recurrence
  • Perforation
  • Adhesion
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Mesh migration
  • Mesh shrinkage/contraction

Some brands that manufacture hernia mesh devices have issued a voluntary market withdrawal. This means the manufacturer removed the mesh products from the market, specifically from being sold or implanted in anyone further. However, those with hernia mesh already implanted continue to have them. Thousands of people are filing lawsuits against manufacturers of hernia mesh in the United States. According to the December 2019 statistics report from the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation, many mass litigation cases are currently being filed against hernia mesh manufacturers. Because of this report, you will most likely see hernia mesh as a primary mass tort case in 2020.

9. IVC Filter

Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filters are a small metal device that looks like an umbrella that is placed in the inferior vena cava vein. The device is used to prevent blood clots usually placed in people who have suffered a major accident or just had major surgery. IVC filters are mostly used for:

  • People diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis
  • People diagnosed with pulmonary embolism
  • Are physically unable to move
  • Are suffering from physical trauma

Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filters have been used for over 15 years and are implanted in people for various issues. However, people are claiming that they are developing serious injuries brought on by the device. Many people are filing lawsuits against the manufactures of IVC devices claiming they are defectively designed. People are also claiming that the manufacturing companies did not do their part in warning doctors and patients enough about the risks of the filters. The injuries people are claiming include:

  • Device migration
  • Detached components left in the body
  • Fractured filter
  • Perforated vein or organ
  • Complications associated with removing the filter
  • Death

The FDA issued a statement saying that they recommend IVC filters should be removed between 29-54 days after implantation. They found that overuse of the device can cause a greater risk of further damage to the person.

Over 15,000 lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of the IVC filters by 2019, so you will most likely see the mass tort case trending this year.

10. Boy Scouts of America

Boy Scouts of America is an organization that has been active for over 100 years. The BSA program has included over 2.2 million young members between the ages of 5-21 and approximately 800,000 volunteers throughout the United States. Boy Scouts of America claims to teach their youth members how to be “Prepared for Life” with multiple groups and clubs with various teaching activities.

As of February 2020, The Boy Scouts of America organization has filed for bankruptcy. It is alleged they are filing for bankruptcy due to the many lawsuits being filed against them claiming young members were sexually abused by Scout staff. Because this mass tort is very new, the cases and information about the cases are still developing. Evidently, you will most likely begin to see more information about the BSA lawsuits this year.