Category Archives: Drug/Medical Device

Recent Philadelphia Verdict Highlights Need to Combat Punitive Damages

In the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, a jury recently awarded the plaintiff $2.3 million in compensatory damages for injuries he alleged arose from his use of a diabetes treatment drug.  The plaintiff claimed that the drug company failed to properly warn that its use was linked to a higher incidence of bladder cancer, a condition he subsequently developed.  In addition to awarding a compensatory sum, the jury awarded $1.3 million in punitive damages, apparently based upon evidence that the company’s pharmaceutical reps were instructed…

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Defendants in Mass Tort Pelvic Mesh Lawsuits May Now Succeed With Removal to Federal Court – Non-Diverse Defendant Wins Dismissal

In a significant win for Secant Medical LLC, (Secant), Judge Arnold L. New of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County granted its motion to dismiss mass tort pelvic mesh personal injury claims in a decision dated August 22, 2014.  The court held that under the Biomedical Access Assurance Act (BAAA), Secant is not a manufacturer or seller of the pelvic mesh. Secant, a Pennsylvania company, was undoubtedly named to defeat diversity jurisdiction in an effort by plaintiffs to stay in state court in…

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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 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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New Jersey Supreme Court Denies Another MultiCounty Litigation Application Without Explanation

In a notice posted earlier this week, the New Jersey Supreme Court has denied another application seeking centralization of cases under New Jersey’s established multicounty litigation procedures.  Unfortunately, this denial — rendered with respect to cases involving DuraPro brand toilet supply lines — offers no analysis or explanation for why the Court rejected the application.  The denial by the Court — similar to prior denials — again references comments received with respect to the application for centralization without providing any discussion of those comments, or…

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Accutane Recusal Fight Headed to NJ Supreme Court

We, like others, have been following the ongoing saga of Hoffman-La Roche’s efforts to secure the recusal of Judge Carol Higbee from her role presiding over the centalized multicounty litigation involving Accutane.  Last month, we noted that the Apellate Division had denied Hoffman-La Roche’s attempt to force Judge Higbee’s recusal.  Hoffman-La Roche, as reported by, among others, Law360 (registration required), continues to push this issue, and has now asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to review its request.  A copy of Hoffman-La Roche’s brief is…

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Centralized Status Rejected for Tylenol Liver-Injury Suits

The New Jersey Supreme Court has rejected yet another application — again by a defendant — for centralization under Rule 4:38A.  As we previously noted, Johnson & Johnson earlier this year submitted an application seeking centralization of all suits alleging liver damage from the ingestion of Tylenol in Middlesex County.  J&J’s application came on the heels of the establishment of a federal MDL on the same issue. In a notice dated last month and released last week, the NJ Supreme Court rejected J&J’s request. …

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Appellate Division Rejects Bid to Recuse Accutane Judge

Law360 is reporting (registration required) that the New Jersey Appellate Division has rejected Hoffman-La Roche’s attempt to recuse Judge Carol Higbee from her role presiding over the centralized multicounty litigation involving Accutane.   We previously discussed Roche’s efforts here, here, here, and here. According to the Law360 article, Roche intends to continue down this path and challenge the Appellate Division’s refusal to review its application.  Given New Jersey’s strong and well-established centralized multicounty litigation program, it is doubtless that many practitioners in…

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