The Mass Torts Made Perfect (MTMP) conference in Las Vegas highlighted two litigation opportunities trending this fall: valsartan and gadolinium. Learn more about these promising new torts and other sessions that left conference attendees feeling energized in our summary below.

MTMP Buzzworthy Item #1: IVC Filters

Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters grabbed headlines all year thanks to ongoing litigation against manufacturers C.R. Bard and Cook Medical. In May, a Texas jury ordered Cook Medical to pay 35-year-old Jeffrey Pavlock $1.2 million in damages. Houston-area firefighter Pavlock sued after metal fragments broke off his Cook Celect IVC filter, then perforated his aorta and duodenum.

And in March 2018, Bard lost its first bellwether trial when an Arizona jury awarded plaintiff Sherr-Una Booker $3.6 million. Booker’s G2 filter is among several now-recalled blood clot filtration devices facing thousands of failure to warn claims nationwide. However, a jury found in Bard’s favor during the most recent bellwether trial on October 5, 2018.

What This Means For You

Following trials with positive plaintiff verdicts, it’s a great time to invest in IVC filter leads.

MTMP Buzzworthy Item #2: Essure

In July 2018, Bayer announced it would stop selling Essure permanent birth control implants in the U.S. completely. This move came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration introduced new Essure sales restrictions back in April. But as discussed at MTMP, these FDA sales restrictions could result in favorable Essure litigation outcomes for plaintiffs. Prior to April, many women now suing say they weren’t sufficiently warned about Essure’s risks, such as:

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Device migration, which can puncture internal organs and tissues
  • Surgical removal (primarily via hysterectomy)
  • Autoimmune injuries like tooth decay, weight gain, depression and other complications

While many two-year states will reach their statute of limitations for Essure claims this month, other factors (like the discovery rule) may come into play. Currently, there are two legal venues available to women filing Essure lawsuits: California and Pennsylvania. The California JCCP now holds more than 10,000 Essure state-level claims. After surviving Bayer’s recent preemption challenge, a multi-district litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania can also move forward.

What This Means For You

The preemption ruling in California signals a good time to invest in Essure lead generation.

MTMP Buzzworthy Item #3: Hernia Mesh

Hernia mesh, approved through the FDA’s 510(k) program, can cause strikingly similar injuries to its near-identical predecessor, transvaginal mesh (TVM). Device manufacturer Ethicon (a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary company) voluntarily recalled its popular Physiomesh implant in May 2016. Ethicon issued the Physiomesh recall after two large EU studies found unusually high complication and device failure rates. EU researchers reported 20% of Physiomesh patients needed surgical repair for hernia recurrence within six months after initial placement.

But Physiomesh isn’t the only defective hernia mesh device makers recalled in recent years, as MTMP attendees learned. In fact, 26 different hernia mesh implants sold between 2005 and 2016 are named in pending lawsuits nationwide. Hernia mesh trials originally scheduled for this year should now begin in April 2019.

What This Means For You

With trials on the horizon, start looking at how you can optimize your marketing plan and talk to us now to reserve your hernia mesh lead volume.

MTMP Buzzworthy Item #4: Talcum Powder

Lawsuits linking Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder to increased risk for ovarian and various other cancers are nothing new. However, this MTMP session focused on several trials where experts testified that J&J’s talc products contained asbestos fibers. This fresh litigation tactic involving exposure to asbestos, a well-known carcinogen, produced staggering verdicts against Johnson & Johnson in 2018.

In the past, J&J successfully overturned multiple verdicts totaling some half a billion dollars to ovarian cancer plaintiffs. But so far, judges upheld every verdict against J&J in cases showing the drug giant’s iconic baby powders contained asbestos. Major talc-asbestos trial settlement awards upheld over the past year include:

  • $117 million to Stephen Lanzo III for mesothelioma (verdict in April, upheld in July)
  • $25.7 million to meso plaintiff Joanne Anderson (verdict in May, upheld in August)
  • $4.69 billion to 22 ovarian cancer plaintiffs (verdict in July, upheld in August)

What This Means For You

There’s been huge verdicts in favor of plaintiffs recently, so keep a watchful eye on how the next few verdicts and appeals play out. Reach out to us now to discuss reserving your lead volume.

MTMP Buzzworthy Item #5: Roundup

Reports linking Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, to rare cancers like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) grabbed national media attention in 2017. That July, California passed a law requiring manufacturer Monsanto to add a cancer warning label to Roundup products sold statewide. Then in August 2018, former school groundskeeper DeWayne Johnson successfully sued Monsanto and won $289 million in damages. After Monsanto appealed this verdict, Johnson accepted a reduced payout totaling $78 million in late October 2018.

Johnson’s Roundup case is the first among at least 800 claims filed against the powerful multi-national to go to trial. Johnson’s case shows that agricultural workers and landscapers are most likely to win a Roundup cancer settlement, MTMP attendees learned. This information can help firms specializing in mass tort identify the most qualified Roundup leads in their target areas. Bellwether case selections are now underway in California and headed for trial sometime in early 2019.

What This Means For You

Favorable jury verdicts show a strong reason to invest in lead generation right now.

MTMP Buzzworthy Item #6: Valsartan

The FDA initially recalled certain heart failure and blood pressure medications with the active ingredient valsartan in July 2018. But the voluntary drug recall just keeps growing as more medication lots test positive for probable carcinogens NDEA and NDMA. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. said the agency traced tainted valsartan lots back to Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals (ZHP) in China. However, not all screened lots consistently test positive for the two cancer-causing adulterants, slowing down the agency’s investigation efforts.

Essentially, the FDA says no more than one in 8,000 valsartan patients could develop cancer from NDMA or NDEA exposure. And that risk, they say, only applies to patients taking 320 mg of tainted valsartan daily over a four-year period. Still, anyone taking angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) should talk to a doctor or pharmacist before stopping the drugs altogether.

What This Means For You

It’s a newer tort with a chance to get in on the ground floor!

MTMP Buzzworthy Item #7: Gadolinium

Ever had an MRI or MRA scan that included a contrast dye injection to make the image clearer? About 30% of all diagnostic imaging scans use contrast agents that contain a man-made heavy metal called gadolinium. And there are two types of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs): linear and macrocyclic. Some people retain GBCAs in their bodies for much longer, which can cause sudden, unexpected kidney problems. The FDA’s still investigating, but issued new class warnings and medication guides for patients requesting them in May 2018.

While they haven’t found a direct causal link between GBCAs and kidney damage, some patients report serious adverse reactions. In people with advanced kidney failure, GBCA exposure can trigger a rare disease called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. This rare nephrotic condition may then spread to affect other internal organs, like the heart, kidneys and lungs. Gadolinium toxicity is a known issue in the legal community, but the new FDA warning and medication guides change everything. Some MTMP attendees noted that doctors can choose not to give patients these new FDA-recommended medication guides, for example. That could open the door for potentially thousands of gadolinium failure to warn claims going forward.

What This Means For You

It’s a newer tort with a chance to get in on the ground floor!