Mass torts can be extremely profitable for law firms seeking to grow their book of business. A high volume of cases that can be treated as one cause of action for most purposes frees up firms’ time to focus on getting more clients and getting them compensated. Whether you’re currently in a small personal injury practice or an existing mass tort firm, here are the mass torts to watch in 2021.
Thousands of plaintiffs claim Zantac was defectively designed and inadequately labeled. Studies have shown a link between NDMA in Zantac (ranitidine) and cancer since the 1980s. One study revealed Zantac contains NDMA up to 3,000 times greater than FDA’s safe limit. Finally in April 2020, Zantac was recalled at FDA’s insistence.
Zantac claims are consolidated in federal MDL 2924. Despite some early preemption concerns, Judge Rosenberg has been diligent to ensure that viable claims proceed to a fair resolution.
3M Combat Arms Earplugs
3M Combat Arms (CAEv2) are dual ended earplugs meant to provide the option of transparency on one end or cancellation on the other. Hundreds of thousands of military personnel have sued 3M for defective design and failure to warn. They allege the earplugs slip imperceptibly from the ear canal, and as a result soldiers are suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus.
All signs point to a looming mass resolution. Plaintiffs recently won 2 of 3 bellwether trials. Lawyers involved in the litigation concur: the jury didn’t like 3M’s bad behavior toward the US military in any of the 3 trials.
Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuits are currently consolidated in federal MDL 2885, the largest mass tort in American history. Three more bellwethers are scheduled for September and October 2021 and January 2022.
Roundup weed killer lawsuits allege Bayer, who purchased Roundup from Monsanto, has known for decades that glyphosate causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), but failed to warn the public about the risks. Typical plaintiffs are farmers , groundskeepers, and landscapers.
Despite thousands of injuries and billions in jury verdicts and settlements, Roundup remains on the market. Roundup is currently consolidated in federal MDL 2741.
Paraquat is a dangerous ingredient in some herbicides used by farmers, landscapers, and groundskeepers. Several countries have banned paraquat, but the US still allows it on the market. The National Institutes of Health claim exposure to paraquat results in a 250% increased incidence of Parkinson’s Disease.
These cases are expected to generate significant damages awards because Parkinson’s is progressive and permanent but doesn’t necessarily decrease the patient’s lifespan. Life care plans will have to be robust and long term. Noneconomic damages will likely be high as well because a victim essentially becomes a prisoner of his own body as it deteriorates. Plaintiffs will be very sympathetic.
Paraquat claims are newly consolidated in federal MDL 3004.
Firefighting Foam (AFFF)
Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF or firefighting foam) contains heat resistant chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that allegedly cause cancer. Plaintiffs are typically municipal or military firefighters and sometimes include aeronautic or construction workers as well.
The lawsuits allege AFFF manufacturers, including 3M and Dupont, have known for decades that PFAS causes cancer but failed to warn users of the risk. PFAS is often referred to as the “forever chemical” because it does not break down in the environment or in the human body. Those who have been exposed to PFAS will always carry it in their bloodstream.
As with 3M Combat Arms, the plaintiffs in this case are highly regarded by the community and tend to be great witnesses. AFFF lawsuits are consolidated in federal MDL 2873.
As of March 2021, there were more than 17,000 hernia mesh lawsuits pending in federal courts against Ethicon, Atrium Medical Corp., and Davol Inc./C.R. Bard. Plaintiffs allege mesh products are defectively designed and their labels fail to warn consumers of risks associated with its use.
Injuries from hernia mesh include adhesion (mesh sticks to other organs and tissue), infection, bowel obstruction, and perforation of organs, among many other adverse events.
Mesh plaintiffs often endure multiple revision surgeries to repair or remove failed mesh. Once it’s implanted, mesh is almost impossible to remove, leaving patients lingering in pain and anguish for years. Surgeons liken mesh revision surgery to taking rebar out of concrete or gum out of long hair.
Hernia mesh lawsuits are consolidated in MDLs according to their manufacturers. Bellwether trials have been rescheduled several times due to the Covid-19 pandemic but are expected to resume in the summer of 2021.
For years OBGYNs and others in the medical community have insisted IUDs are safe and effective despite thousands of adverse event reports and lawsuits. Paragard, a non-hormonal copper IUD, has started seeing a wave of lawsuits for injuries caused when the IUD arms break as they’re removed. Whether by defective design or through aging (Paragard’s label says it can be used up to 10 years), the arms that form Paragard’s T shape can snap off when the IUD is removed and become lodged in or perforate organs.
Women have experienced far ranging symptoms from infections to hysterectomies. Doctors don’t seem to truly understand how dangerous IUDs can be for some women.
The federal Paragard MDL 2974 was consolidated in 2020.
Developed to treat interstitial cystitis, Elmiron causes serious and sometimes permanent eye damage called pigmentary maculopathy (PM). PM can vary in degree, from difficulty seeing in low light to blindness.
Elmiron cases have promise because the medication causes a signature injury. If you find a consumer with pigmentary maculopathy, you will almost always have an Elmiron claim.
These cases are currently consolidated in federal MDL 2973.
Allergan Biocell Breast Implants
Allergan recalled its Biocell textured breast implants in July 2019, after FDA confirmed their link to breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The FDA first identified a possible link between the implants and cancer in 2011, but did not force a recall at the time because it said there were too few cases to confirm the risk.
BIA-ALCL is a signature injury, simplifying the process of identifying women injured by this particular product. Plaintiffs allege Allergan has known, but failed to warn, of the risks since the 1990s.
Allergan Biocell Breast Implant claims are consolidated in federal MDL 2921.
The National Prescription Opiate Litigation plaintiffs allege opioid manufacturers grossly misrepresented risks of long-term opioid use and that distributors failed to properly monitor suspicious orders for opioid prescriptions, culminating in the disastrous opioid epidemic.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 47,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2017.
Plaintiffs allege opioid proponents paid thought leaders in the industry to tout the benefits and downplay the risks of opioid use. Even when prescription orders were wildly disproportionate to the local population, distributors rarely raised the red flag. They were shipping millions of pills into localities with only hundreds of residents. Purdue Pharma filed bankruptcy in 2019, so the details of the settlements will largely be handled by the bankruptcy court.
Most complainants in the current Opiate MDL are state and local government representatives pursuing state dollars lost dealing with the opioid crisis, but some law firms are taking individual cases as well.
Thousands of opiate cases are currently consolidated in federal MDL 2804.
All these mass torts are ongoing, and there are still plaintiffs who haven’t been signed. The team of digital marketing experts at NIB Direct knows how to reach your target audience—people who need your help now. If you’re looking to grow your practice, contact us today because some of these lawsuits could settle soon.