Mass tort cases are cases for individuals claiming injuries caused by defective products, bad drugs, defective medical devices, or other mass negligence perpetrated to a large group of people that could have been prevented. Additionally, we are in the first quarter of the year and there are many developing mass torts and we may see more this year. Read on to find out more about the top mass tort cases to watch in 2021 and what the lawsuits entail.
Paragard is a new developing mass tort that you will most likely see a lot in 2021. The Paragard IUD is a birth control device used by women to prevent pregnancy. Additionally, it is the only intrauterine device (IUD) on the market that is hormone-free and claims to prevent pregnancy for up to ten years. The alleged issue with Paragard is not during the implantation of the device, but during use and at the time of removal. There are many reported injuries related to Paragard such as:
- IUD “stuck” in the uterus
- Device migration
- Device breakage leading to surgery.
- Copper wire left behind in the body, potentially causing issues
- such as inflammation and injury.
- Organ damage
- Ectopic pregnancy
Furthermore, many women are seeking financial compensation after undergoing these injuries. However, there is currently no recall on Paragard.
Teva Pharmaceuticals is the original manufacturer of Paragard, but as of now, Cooper Surgical bought them and is the current manufacturer of the Paragard IUD. In the lawsuit, there are many grounds the victims are claiming such as:
- Defective design: Most IUDs have a T-shaped design, which poses a risk for one or both arms breaking off during insertion or removal.
- Manufacturing defect: Because of the fragile material, it can cause the device to break.
- Failure to warn: This is the most common claim in the Paragard lawsuits. Evidently, the warning label on Paragard does not show proper instructions about the removal process.
- Negligence: Because the makers of Paragard should have manufactured a well-designed device, they have breached that duty by supplying a device that is potentially easy to break off
In January 2021, an MDL became established for the lawsuits under the United States District Court of the Northern District of Georgia.
Elmiron is also a new mass tort case that we will see more of in 2021. The drug Elmiron is a prescription drug that doctors prescribe to patients who suffer from bladder pain caused by interstitial cystitis. However, it is the only drug available to treat this condition. However, many people are now claiming they are developing eye injuries after taking Elmiron. There are many vision problems that contribute to maculopathy such as:
- Distorted or blurred vision
- Diminished eyesight
- Difficulty reading, seeing objects that are close, and adjusting to dim lighting or the dark
- Eye strain or pain
- Raised time to adjust to darkness or dim lighting
- Visual disturbances such as flashes, moving lights, or shadows
Janssen Pharmaceuticals currently manufactures Elmiron and is evidently the one being held responsible in the lawsuits. The lawsuits are claiming that Janssen also did not warn its patients of the potential risk of eye damage from taking the drug. As of December 2020, an official MDL has been established under the United States District Court of New Jersey.
Zantac is one of the largest trending mass tort cases of 2021. It is a pharmaceutical drug that people use to treat various intestinal issues and comes in an over-the-counter version as well as a prescription version. In April of 2020, the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) found that when Zantac was raised to certain temperatures, elevated levels of NDMA were present. Because of this issue, the FDA requested a recall of all ranitidine products, including Zantac, from the shelves.
Many agencies claim NDMA is a probable carcinogen and also continue to study it for its toxicity. People are claiming multiple injuries from taking Zantac such as:
- Liver cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Small and large intestine cancer
- Colo/rectal cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
Currently, the MDL for the Zantac lawsuit is in the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach. MDL Number: 2924 with the presiding judge, Judge Robin L Rosenberg. Furthermore, the lawsuits are currently going after defective design and failure to warn.
Truvada PrEP is a drug that treats and prevents HIV and AIDS and evidently reduces the risk of being infected with HIV. It is the first and one of the only FDA-approved drugs used to prevent HIV and has been on the market since 2002. However, many people are now claiming Truvada is causing them more serious injuries including bone and kidney issues than it is helping. The lawsuits consist of claims about bone and kidney issues such as:
- Kidney Failure
- Liver problems
- Bone problems
- Lactic acidosis
- Bone fractures
- Persistent or worsening bone pain
- Orthopedic Injuries
Gilead currently manufactures Truvada and many are claiming that Gilead is withholding a safer alternative to maximize profits from Truvada. There is currently a pending MDL in California, MDL #2881. However, since we are still in the preliminary stages of the lawsuit, there is no official MDL currently.
5. PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances)
Recently, PFAS are all the buzz in the mass tort world in 2021. PFAS are manufactured chemicals that are found in multiple products, the issue is that these chemicals are potentially carcinogenic. The chemical compound is water-soluble and does not break down efficiently in the environment. In December 2019, the FDA issued a statement that PFAS has toxic elements and may lead to health concerns, especially for humans. Moreover, PFAS is studied for being a possible human carcinogen as the chemical compound had similar characteristics to other cancer-causing chemicals.
Firefighters use a foam called Aqueous Film Forming Foam, or AFFF, to suppress fires by cutting oxygen supply and rapidly exhaust them faster than traditional water. Unfortunately, when fighters use this in large quantities, after direct exposure, it can absorb through their skin. Military personnel also uses AFFF in daily drills and combat. In March 2018, the U.S. Department of Veterans issued a public health statement warning veterans about their exposure to PFAS and how it can negatively affect their health. Because of this, many are claiming to have developed cancers after exposure to PFAS such as:
The lawsuits involving AFFF contamination by PFAS are combined into an MDL under the United States District Court of South Carolina MDL No. 2873.
In addition to firefighter’s lawsuits, there are lawsuits involving PFAS manufacturers for allegedly contaminating drinking water. The National Rural Water Association (NRWA) is filing a class-action lawsuit against multiple chemical manufactures for allegedly contaminating waters with PFAS in the U.S. At this time, the NRWA is suing the following PFAS manufacturers for water contamination:
- 3M Company
- Tyco Fire Products L.P.
- National Foam Inc
- Buckeye Fire Protection
- Inc. Du Pont De Nemours Inc.
- The Chemours Company
Penumbra is a pharmaceutical manufacturer who recently voluntarily recalled some of its products. The company urgently recalled their devices, the JET 7 Xtra Flex catheter, and the JET 7MAX configuration, after an increase in the risk of serious injuries and even death was reported. The device has only been on the market for a year, however, even in that short amount of time, the FDA has received many reports of device complications, including death. According to the FDA’s notice, 20 of the reported adverse actions include 14 patient deaths due to device complications. Many report device complications and injuries in this lawsuit such as:
- Device Rupture
- Distal Tip Fracture
- Exposure of support coils
- Distal tip detachment
- Expansion of device
- Blood Vessel Damage
- Cerebral Infraction
- Brain Bleed
- Ruptured Arteries
Because we are in the first stages of the recall and litigation, there is currently no state-issued MDL (Multi-district Litigation).
Johnson & Johnson is an extremely popular company that makes all sorts of products for the last 100 years. But many developing lawsuits claim they have gotten ovarian cancer from using their talc-based baby powder products. In May of 2020, J&J announced they will no longer produce or sell talcum powder-based products in the U.S. or Canada markets after undergoing multiple lawsuits and allegations. However, Johnson & Johnson continues to sell talc-based products to the rest of the world.
Many people claim that the reason for their cancer development is how J&J’s talc powder could be contaminated with asbestos, which is known to cause cancer. Recently, there are many instances where research links talcum powder and asbestos such as:
- In September 2018, AMA landed a one-year contract to test talc-containing cosmetics for the presence of asbestos fibers.
- Also, in October 2019, the FDA updated the Safety Alert and issued a warning not to use talcum powder that tested positive for asbestos.
- In October 2019, J&J voluntarily recalled one lot of baby powder, after a sample tested positive for asbestos. The recalled product was Johnson’s Baby Powder Lot #22318RB.
There is currently an active MDL for the talcum powder lawsuits in the District of New Jersey under the U.S. District Court. Moreover, Johnson and Johnson are currently the main manufacturers in the talcum powder lawsuit. All in all, because of the recall, talc will be a big mass tort case in 2021.
Roundup is a brand of herbicide that farmers, gardeners, and individuals use daily, around the world. Glyphosate is the active ingredient used in Roundup and is continuously being accused of causing many illnesses, including cancer. Because of this, there are multiple lawsuits against Monsanto, which is the current manufacturer of Roundup, for the alleged illnesses. There are many injuries being reported in the lawsuits such as:
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- B-cell lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
Glyphosate is continuously being studied to prove its toxicity. However, it is still legal to use as it was reapproved for use by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in 2020. In 2015, the World Health Organization declared that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
Currently, the Federal Monsanto Roundup Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) will take place in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and will be a major mass tort case in 2021.
One of the major topics, and serious trending mass tort cases in 2021, would be Juul. Juul is an electronic cigarette company based in the U.S. that sells rechargeable vapes and disposable pods. After being on the market for only a few years, many are now accusing Juul of specifically marketing to teens and minors through advertising and fruity-flavored vape products. Many are also accusing Juul of getting an entirely new generation addicted to nicotine who previously never used nicotine products. At the beginning of 2020, the FDA created a new law banning flavored e-cigarette refillable cartridges. Juul has since removed their flavors crème, cucumber, fruit, and mango.
Currently, there is an MDL for the Juul lawsuits in the Northern District of California, before Judge William H. Orrick.
Paraquat dichloride commonly referred to as “paraquat,” is a chemical herbicide used for weed killing, only in agricultural and commercial settings, and is considered highly toxic. The herbicide also goes by the name Gramoxone and is one of the most globally used commercial herbicides today. Paraquat’s main issue is that it is extremely toxic when inhaled. The herbicide is also being linked to the long-term development of Parkinson’s disease.
- In 2011, Environmental Health Perspectives found that exposure to paraquat increased the risk of Parkinson’s disease by 250%.
- Furthermore, in 2012, a study by the Parkinson’s Institute showed that the risks of developing Parkinson’s increased 11 times in people who worked with paraquat.
- In October 2020, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) began to review Paraquat and its toxicity to humans. They opened the review to the public for commentary, a program that re-evaluates all pesticides on a 15-year cycle.
Additionally, there are many more short-term injuries through Paraquat poisoning such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea/Bloody Diarrhea
- Muscle Weakness
- Respiratory Failure
- Difficulty Breathing
- Fast heart rate
- Acute kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Lung Scarring
- Pulmonary Edema
Currently, there is no official MDL for the Paraquat lawsuits. However, we may see developing lawsuits against the manufacturers in 2021.
Belviq, also known as lorcaserin, is a weight loss drug that people who are clinically overweight use to prevent or treat obesity or other weight-related medical issues. Doctors prescribe the drug to aid in weight loss, to reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and reduce the risk of a shortened lifespan due to weight-related issues. On February 13th, 2020, the FDA requested the voluntary recall of Belviq from the manufacturer because the clinical trial showed an increased risk of cancer. Following the recall, many people are filing lawsuits against the makers of Belviq for allegedly causing certain types of cancer such as:
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Colorectal Cancer
- Lung Cancer
The current manufacturer for Belviq is Eisai Inc. which is a Japanese pharmaceutical company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Additionally, because Belviq is still in the preliminary stages of the lawsuit, there is currently no MDL established for these cases.
12. Surgical Staples
Surgeons and medical professionals use surgical staples to close incisions after surgery and as an alternative to stitches or sutures. But like many medical devices, there can be complications and injuries associated with them. Many are claiming the surgical staples malfunction and are causing infections. Because of this, there are many recalls of surgical staples including:
- April 2018: Covidien recalled two surgical staples for EEA Hemorrhoid and Prolapse Stapler Sets
- April 2018: Covidien recalled 40 GIA surgical stapler devices due to a “possible missing sled component”.
- May 2018: Covidien recalled 14 more Covidien GIA staplers for the same reason.
- August 2018: Covidien’s EEA Circular Stapler with Tri-Staple Technology was recalled due to “the potential for a device to have an incorrect tissue gap”.
- May 2019: An added 12 recalls were made for the Covidien GIA staplers
- April 2019: The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) issued draft guidance about labeling surgical staples and staplers.
Due to injury claims and recalls, many people who had surgical staples are filing lawsuits against multiple manufacturers for allegedly causing harm. These claims include injuries such as:
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Cardiac arrest
- Digestive system damage
- Need for a permanent “ostomy bag.”
- Needing more surgeries
Although there are multiple developing lawsuits for surgical staples currently, it is still in the preliminary stages of litigation, which furthermore means there is no official MDL for the case.
Currently, the manufacturers responsible for the developing lawsuits include:
- Johnson & Johnson