Articles Tagged with California

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California Product Liability LawsuitsCalifornia is a beautiful, diverse state. It has everything from wide, sandy beaches to snow-capped mountains, deserts, thick forests, wide open spaces and massive cities. It also has laws and a court system that’s seen as friendly to those injured by prescription medications. And after a recent court decision, more people in other states may be heading there to try their  product liability cases.

The California Supreme Court issued a decision in August which may encourage people harmed by prescription medications and medical devices from all over the country to file legal actions in the state. At issue is whether the state’s court system has jurisdiction over legal claims by people who’ve never been in California. In cases involving the drug Plavix, the answer was yes.

The eight lawsuits in question have 86 California residents and 592 people from 33 other states as plaintiffs. The defendant, Bristol-Myers Squibb, sought the dismissal of the claims by the 592 non-Californian plaintiffs.

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Last week I wrote about the dreaded post-trial life of a product liability lawsuit. If an injured person wins the jury trial, and particularly if the jury awards a large amount of money, the plaintiff should expect to face an onslaught of post-trial motions and the inevitable appeal to the next highest appellate court.

That is exactly what happened in one of the first important Depuy ASR Hip trials in California.

The Jury Trial

Depuy ASR Jury TrialOn March 8, 2013, a jury in Los Angeles Superior Court awarded $8,338,236.12 for a man injured by the failure of the Depuy ASR Hip. Loren Kransky alleged that the Depuy ASR hip components were negligently designed, that the components had a design defect, and that Depuy failed to warn him and his doctors about the potential risks involved in implanting the device.

After a five-week trial in 2013, the jury in the California case awarded Mr. Kransky $338,236.12 in “economic damages” and $8,000,000.00 in “pain and suffering” damages. Jurors in the case found that the device was defective at the time of sale, and that it injured the plaintiff. The jury found in favor of Mr. Kransky and awarded damages for medical costs and for emotional suffering and distress.

The jury did not award punitive damages to Mr. Kransky. The jury did not find that Depuy acted with fraud or malice, which prevented an award of punitive damages. Which was good for Depuy, as Mr. Kransky’s legal team aggressively argued for punitive damages in amounts that could have exceeded $100,000,000.00.

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So maybe you’ve heard the news that Washington and California recently sued Johnson & Johnson for misrepresenting the safety of its transvaginal mesh (or “pelvic mesh”) products. I pulled the Washington lawsuit and read it. It is alarming. If Washington can prove the allegations in the complaint, it will be a damning indictment of Johnson & Johnson and the pelvic mesh industry generally.

The Washington Lawsuit

Washington State Transvaginal Mesh LawsuitStates can sue companies on behalf of their injured citizens. If the state’s attorney general decides that a “bad act” is harmful to enough citizens, her office can file a lawsuit on behalf of the state and the group of people who were injured. It is an important consumer protection function provided by the states. This is what happened in Washington and California a few days ago. The Washington Attorney General reported that 11,728 transvaginal mesh products were sold (and implanted) in women in the state. The attorneys general in those states filed suit against Johnson & Johnson and made a series of chilling allegations against the company for its marketing of transvaginal mesh.

Let’s look at some of the key allegations in the Washington State lawsuit. When I refer to “Defendants,” I mean Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, Inc., and their related companies, who made and marketed several types of transvaginal mesh.

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