Cases Continue – On November 9, 2020, MDL Judge Vince Chhabria has activated a docket of cases that failed to settle. This is likely designed to push the parties towards settlement, but some cases take longer than others to process, and some settlements are unique. These cases that have not settled will likely settle in the near future.
“Substantial Progress” on Settlement – The case is proceeding to a global settlement. Court-appointed mediator Ken Feinberg, famous for the 9/11 settlement and BP Oil Spill litigation, announced on the same day (November 9, 2020) that they were making “substantial progress” towards settlement. This substantial progress appears to be illustrated by the numbers. 88,500 out of 125,000 cases have now been settled. Feinberg noted that it is “just a question of when and how quickly they’ll get resolved.”
Act Now! These cases are hot, but there isn’t much time left to act.
First Bulk Settlements Inked – On October 6, 2020, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay more than $100 million to settle a number of cases. These settlements stem from asbestos contamination of talc products. These are the first bulk settlements in the case. BASF, a German based defendant, settled similar claims earlier in the year for $72.5 million. Both companies settled these claims without an admission of liability, and both claim their products are safe for market.
No Medical Malpractice – The MDL has severed any medical malpractice claims from the litigation, choosing to focus their attention on product liability aspects of the case.
Movement Towards Larger Settlements – These settlements are big news for talc power claimants. Until October 2020, Johnson & Johnson had only settled individual cases, and even then, those cases were only settled after a trial was scheduled and prepped. In other words, these settlements are the first large-scale settlement programs in the case, and are likely a sign of more to come.
Litigation Funding Available Now – On November 2, 2020, Tribeca Capital Group, a pre-settlement litigation funding company, announced that have started taking applications for Zantac claimants. Earlier in 2020, the FDA recalled the products from the market due to their use of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a known carcinogen. The fact that these funding companies have started accepting these cases is a major turning point in the case, indicating that claimants will be paid.
Plaintiff Steering Committee announced in MDL! With a team of more than 25 lawyers on the committee, the case will be led by Mike McGlamry of Pope McGlamry P.C., Bobby Gilbert of Kopelowitz Ostrow Ferguson Weiselberg Gilbert, Tracy Finken of Anapol Weiss and Adam Pulaski of Pulaski Kherkher.
Storage Impacts Damages – A recent study has indicated that storage conditions regarding the drug impacted the amount of NDMA consumed. When stored in high temperatures and high humidity, researchers found that the NDMA found in the product rose more than 600 times.
Bellwether Trials Scheduled (Part 1) – In the Bard Hernia Mesh litigation, bellwether trials have been slated to begin in January 2021. These trials have been delayed repeatedly but appear to be on track for 2021.
Bellwether Trials Scheduled (Part 2) – Similarly, the Ethicon case has also scheduled their first bellwether trials for January 25, 2021 and is scheduled to last two to three weeks.
Bellwether Trials Scheduled (Part 3) – Atrium follows this trend, with their bellwether scheduled for January 20, 2021.
All Signs Point to Settlement – These signs point towards a global settlement, or at least a settlement by MDLs individually, in early 2021. These trials tend to trigger settlement discussions and resolutions, and the fact that all three MDLs have scheduled trials for the same week indicate that this will be one of the most active times in the litigation.
Your monthly legal news update from Legalcalls.com by Attorney Jeff Keiser