Author Archives: H. Lockwood Miller III

Lone Pine Orders: Not Just for Multi-Plaintiff Litigation?

So-called “Lone Pine” orders derive from Lone Pine v. Lore, 1986 WL 637507 (N.J. Sup. Ct. Law Div. Nov. 18, 1986), and have often been used by state and federal courts to promote efficiency in discovery by requiring plaintiffs to provide some medical or scientific proof that their exposure to a product caused their injuries before requiring the parties to engage in the usual full-blown and expensive discovery process. In most instances, Lone Pine orders are employed in cases involving large numbers…

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Failure to Identify Author Supports Rejection of Publication as Learned Treatise

The use of a learned treatise at trial, either with one’s own expert or on cross-examination of an opposing expert, arises frequently in life sciences cases. When doing so with your own expert, is it helpful for your expert to have actually relied on the publication and to be able to identify who wrote it and why it is reputable? Not surprisingly, the answer, according to a New Jersey court, is yes. Lawson v. K2 Sports USA, et al. arose out of a mountain biking…

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Word to the Wise: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie … or at Least Lawsuits Based on Them

Since it is a holiday week surrounding Fourth of July we are keeping the content light and irrelevant to our blog topic. But, when a court determines that a dog sleeping in a hallway does not create an unreasonable risk, we can’t resist. In Parella v. Compeau, a panel of the New Jersey Appellate Division tackled the question of whether a “hidden” sleeping dog created a dangerous condition at a Christmas dinner (wine) party hosted at the defendants’ house. The plaintiff alleged the homeowner…

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New Jersey, (Mass Actions) & You — Still Perfect Together?

Earlier this month, we wrote about a choice-of-law decision from the New Jersey Supreme Court that we believe will invite more out-of-state plaintiffs to forum-shop and file suit in New Jersey. This prospect of increased “litigation tourism” brought to mind the old New Jersey tourism slogan “New Jersey and You – Perfect Together.” It also brought to mind that New Jersey’s state-law version of an MDL — the New Jersey Multicounty Litigation program — remains a favorite vehicle for plaintiffs and their lawyers to pursue…

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Judicial Call for More Guidance on Punitive Damages Awards

Earlier this year, in a bellwether trial in the Actos multidistrict litigation, a Louisiana federal court jury awarded $9 billion  in punitive damages to plaintiffs who claimed that the use of the diabetes drug Actos caused bladder cancer. Not surprisingly, post-trial challenges followed. In particular, while the defendants did not challenge the amount of compensatory damages ($1,475,000), they argued that the award of punitive damages had to be reduced in order to comply with previous United States Supreme Court rulings that established limits on punitive…

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Judge Higbee to the Appellate Division?

It is being reported today that Judge Carol Higbee, who is one of several judges assigned to handle multi-county litigation pending in New Jersey, is being temporarily assigned to the Appellate Division.  Currently, Judge Higbee presides over several multi-county litigations pending in Atlantic County, New Jersey, many of which involve product liability claims against pharmaceutical products or medical devices.  The Appellate Division assignment is reported to run from mid-April to mid-June, with the possibility that it could become a permanent assignment. It remains to be…

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New Alternative Causation for Pharma Defendants in Surgeon General’s Smoking Report?

Last week, the Office of the Surgeon General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a new report on the health consequences of smoking on the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health.  The report is available, click here. The 2014 report – entitled “The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress” – adds colorectal and liver cancer to the list of cancers causally linked to smoking. The report also adds several non-cancers to the list of…

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New Alternative Causation for Pharma Defendants in Surgeon General’s Smoking Report?

Last month, the Office of the Surgeon General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a new report on the health consequences of smoking on the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health. The 2014 report – entitled “The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress” – adds colorectal and liver cancer to the list of cancers causally linked to smoking.  The report also adds several non-cancers to the list of chronic diseases causally linked to smoking,…

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Roche Recusal Victory Short-Lived

Last week, we commented on what appeared to be some success for Hoffman-La Roche in its efforts to force the recusal of Judge Carol Higbee from her role presiding over the centralized multicounty litigation involving Accutane.  However, the order issued by New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia — which imposed a stay on the trial court proceedings and appeared to us to suggest that Roche’s application would receive further review on the merits before the Appellate Division — was superceded by two further orders

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Roche Wins Battle in Recusal Fight

We continue to follow with great interest the on-going efforts by Hoffman-La Roche to force the recusal of Judge Carol Higbee, who has been overseeing the thousands of claims pending against Roche involving Accutane in the Superior Court of New Jersey.  Up until now, Roche’s efforts have been unsuccessful, beginning with Judge Higbee’s initial denial of the recusal application, followed by the New Jersey Appellate Division’s rejection of Roche’s application for leave to appeal that denial. However, Roche’s fortunes may be changing — at least…

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