$11 Billion & Counting
Upon reviewing the news over the past month, I’ll admit that it has been a slow news month, but there are still some important headlines to consider.
Most of these cases have made some great progress this year, and much more is expected as we move into the second half of the year.
JPML Hernia Mesh Change of Heart
The JPML had another hearing, and while the news is not especially dramatic, the panel did have a change of heart when it comes to Coviden Hernia Mesh cases.
These cases were in front of the JPML before, with the panel rejecting calls for centralization. But now, following a new motion, the panel agreed with counsel and have centralized a new MDL in the District of Massachusetts in front of Judge Patti B. Saris.
Obviously, it is far too early to start discussing the merits of the case as the MDL was created just a week ago. But following centralization, and considering previous hernia mesh, there is some real potential in these cases.
3M Lightning Pace
The 3M Combat Arms Earplug litigation remains the largest in US history. The MDL has been trying bellwether trials at a lightning pace, 16 in total so far. And since our last newsletter, plaintiffs have won two more.
The 15th bellwether gave us a plaintiff verdict in the amount of $2.2 million, a much lower value than the $77.5 million awarded in the previous trial.
Thus far, the plaintiffs have a record of 10-6, with 12 individual plaintiffs being awarded more than $300 million.
This wraps up what MDL Judge Casey Rodgers has described as Phase 1 in the bellwether process. Judge Rogers also issued a new Case Management Order identifying 500 additional cases to be prepared for the next phase of trials. 1,500 active cases have now been sent for trial prep for 2023.
Unfortunately, there are no more trials scheduled until the new year, creating a situation where there may not be much immediate pressure on 3M to settle.
However, the next round of bellwether trials will deal with large blocks of consolidated plaintiffs. This means 20-50 plaintiffs will go to trial together, a potential disaster for 3M. Only time will tell.
In the Paragard MDL, more than 1,000 women have filed complaints seeking damages for injuries sustained because of a design defect in the popular IUD, causing it to fracture during removal.
These individual lawsuits have been consolidated into an MDL in the Northern District of Georgia.
The case is moving slowly. Only a handful of new Paragard IDU lawsuits were transferred into the MDL in May and no new cases have been transferred in so far as of June 6, 2022.
The MDL Judge heard arguments on the Plaintiffs’ challenges to the documents produced by the defendants in response to discovery.
We believe this will end up in a global settlement, but this one looks like it will take some time. A few bellwether trials (not scheduled as of this writing) will push defendants to the settlement table.
Some lawyers are estimating that these cases may be worth as much as $180,000. Stay tuned.
$11 Billion & Counting
As of today, Monsanto has settled more than 100,000 cases in the Roundup litigation, paying more than $11 billion. This represents nearly 80% of all cases filed in the litigation, with 26,000 cases yet to be considered.
On June 10, 2022, a jury in a bellwether trial found for Bayer. Another bellwether was settled before trial because defendants didn’t like the fact pattern.
Plaintiffs’ loss isn’t the end of the world, but it does create frustration. If the jury had found for the plaintiff, it would have put tremendous pressure on Monsanto for a global settlement.
Instead, they likely feel emboldened, and we will have to wait to see what future bellwether trials hold.
In other news, a Pennsylvania state class action has recently been created, adding Nouryon as a defendant. This defendant manufactured one of the toxic chemicals in Roundup.
Ponderous Progress on Paraquat
Over in Paraquat, the MDL is progressing slowly. While we’re moving towards our first bellwether in the litigation, it will take some time to get there.
The MDL judge recently issued an amended discovery schedule for the first bellwether.
The good news is that discovery is supposed to conclude by July 25, 2022 (instead of May 16, 2022), which will likely keep us on track for the scheduled trial date (November 15, 2022).
But once you start granting delays like this, they have a tendency to duplicate, and we won’t have much news until the MDL’s next status conference on July 15, 2022.
That’s it from HQ for June
Keep signing those clients and keep working those cases.
We’ll be back in June with more news and updates on these and other cases.
Stay safe out there.
Craig H. Alinder, Vice President