Mass Tort litigation is where many Plaintiffs have been impacted by the same product or device such that the cases are often consolidated for the Plaintiffs to bring suit against the Defendants.
Settlements were recently reached in litigation in federal and state court concerning Juul e-cigarettes. There are four settlements between lead plaintiffs’ counsel and Juul Labs, Inc., the manufacturers of Juul e-cigarettes. One resolves personal injury cases, another resolves consumer class actions, another resolves government entity cases, and the last resolves tribal cases. The personal injury cases will compensate plaintiffs suffering from injuries, including nicotine addiction. The consumer class action settlement will compensate consumers who purchased Juul products. The government entity settlement will provide funding to municipalities to help them curb e-cigarette use. The tribal settlement will provide similar funding to Native American tribes.
Even with these settlements, the litigations will continue. There are other defendants in the litigation who have not settled cases. For example, a trial is scheduled in 2023 with a plaintiff school district and defendant Altria Group, Inc., one of the largest tobacco and e-cigarette manufacturers in the world.
Cases involving Zostavax, a shingles vaccine, are consolidated in a Multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) in Federal court in Pennsylvania. Many plaintiffs in the MDL allege that Zostavax actually caused them to get shingles. A recent Order required these plaintiffs to provide evidence of such by providing results of a PRC test. PRC tests are only administered at the time the shingles infection is active. It is not common practice for doctors to order the test.
Unfortunately, no plaintiff was able to produce a PRC test result. As a result, over 1,000 cases were dismissed.
But many plaintiffs allege Zostavax caused other injuries besides shingle. These cases continue in the litigation.
Last month, Judge Rosenberg, the judge presiding over the Zantac MDL, dismissed over 5,000 cases pending before her. Thousands of plaintiffs sued the manufacturers of Zantac alleging that the heartburn medication caused certain cancers. These include bladder cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, and esophageal cancer.
In the Order dismissing the cases, Judge Rosenberg found that Plaintiffs were unable to show enough evidence to link Zantac to cancer. Specifically, she said that plaintiffs’ experts used “unreliable methodologies” to link Zantac to cancer.
The Zantac litigation is not completely over. Judge Rosenberg’s decision will likely be appealed. There are also lawsuits pending around the county. There are four trials scheduled to begin in California in February 2023.