Big-Money Verdicts, Food Safety Lawsuits & More

The Legal Look

Some big things are happening in the world of product liability litigation, with huge verdicts against major corporations coming in left and right. On the one hand, Johnson & Johnson has lost yet another talc lawsuit - the biggest one yet - while Home Depot is paying out millions to a man who bought a defective ladder at one of the company's big-box home improvement stores. Other recent court cases involve packaged salads that contain listeria, homeopathic teething tablets, and the third in a series of bellwether trials against the makers of blood thinner Xarelto.

$417 Million Verdict in Talc Lawsuit

On August 21, a woman in California won a historic victory in a talcum powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. Eva Echeverria has been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer, which she claimed was caused by years of using Johnson's Baby Powder. Evidence linking talc particles in the baby powder with an increased risk of ovarian cancer is hotly debated, but while Johnson & Johnson maintains that their product is entirely safe, several studies have come forward since the 1970s concluding that using talcum powder increases ovarian cancer risk up to 30%. The jury in California ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay out $417 million. Eva hopes her case will help other women and convince manufacturers like J&J to stop selling talc-based products.

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Home Depot to Pay $4.7 Million for Defective Ladder

In a case against Home Depot and Tricam, plaintiff Moises Ore alleged that a ladder made by Tricam and sold by Home Depot caused him significant injury in April 2012. While climbing the ladder to assist a customer at his place of work, Ore fell and injured the entire right side of his body, including injuries that needed multiple surgeries. The culprit, he and his lawyers alleged, was a misplaced rivet-- displaced about 11mm by a manufacturing defect. The defect caused the ladder to buckle under the weight of the 170 lbs. man, even though the ladder was designed to hold 250 lbs. Though the defendants did offer a settlement amount, Ore's lawyers found the offer unacceptable and took the industry giant to court. The result was a verdict of $4.7 million in favor of their client, covering Ore's loss of future earnings, past and future medical bills, and pain and suffering.

Endo Reserves $775 Million to Settle Mesh Lawsuits

After shutting down a plant that made its mesh implant devices, Endo International has now set aside $775 million to settle the remaining 22,000 vaginal mesh lawsuit claims against them. Complaints of eroded implants that caused pain and injury have not only affected Endo, but also mesh implant makers Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific Corp. However, both Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific Corp. continue to defend themselves in thousands of cases across America. Endo has chosen to take what some would call the more ethical approach. "We believe it is a very important milestone for Endo to have reached agreements to resolve virtually all known U.S. mesh product liability claims," Paul Campanelli, Endo's president and chief executive officer, said Monday in a statement.


Suit Filed Against Dole for Contaminated Salad

In 2015, at least 19 people were diagnosed with listeria monocytogenes caused by packaged salads. After the outbreak, popular foods distributor Dole issued a recall for all pre-packaged salads from one of their facilities, found by the CDC to contain the bacteria. Now, an Indiana resident is bringing her case to court, alleging that her case of listeria meningitis was caused by Dole salads, which she frequently ate. Barbra Mary Jennhatton now suffers from acute respiratory failure; she is 68 years old. Her suit charges Dole with negligence; Dole has not commented on the lawsuit at this time.

Homeopathic Teething Tablets Contain Belladonna

The FDA is once again urging parents not to use teething tablets made by homeopathic manufacturers. Some tablets marketed and sold by CVS and Hyland's Inc. have been tested and found to contain belladonna alkaloids (atropine and scopolamine) content and coffea cruda (caffeine). In some cases, the amount of these ingredients far exceeded the specifications on the product label, the FDA reports. As always, ConsumerSafety.Org urges our readers to be cognizant of the ingredients in all the products they use, and research when unsure about safety issues. We've previously discussed the potential dangers of homeopathic products.

Third Xarelto Bellwether Trial Verdict

Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Bayer Healthcare had their third Xarelto lawsuit victory this month in another case regarding the popular blood thinner. Plaintiffs in these cases argued that marketing efforts downplayed the risk of extreme and in cases deadly bleeding associated with Xarelto. Xarelto is also one blood thinner that does not have an emergency antidote, unlike similar medications such as warfarin, and severe bleeding has caused serious injuries and hospitalization for many people.

Andy Birchfield, the principal lawyer on this case, continues to stand by his client Dora Mingo, stating that "Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Bayer Healthcare engaged in aggressive direct-to-consumer, physician marketing and advertising campaigns, but gave little weight to the dangers of Xarelto because they were more focused on their business plan than patient safety."

Authored by Curtis WeyantContributor
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Curtis Weyant has more than 20 years as a writer, editor, and communicator, publishing on a wide variety of topics, especially in the financial, legal, and medical fields. At, Curtis managed the day-to-day publication of all content from 2016-2019.
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