Contraceptive Makers Lose Motion to Apply New Jersey Law to Dismiss Punitive Damages Claims in Mass Tort Litigation

A state judge in New Jersey recently rejected a motion for partial summary judgment of two pharmaceutical companies to dismiss punitive damages claims, filed in nine bellwether cases in the NuvaRing mass tort litigation involving injuries allegedly caused by the contraceptive. Roughly 200 cases were filed over allegedly harmful side effects caused by use of the contraceptive, which is inserted vaginally and releases doses of the hormones estrogen and progestin. Merck and Organon USA Inc.  asserted that the New Jersey Product Liability Act exclusion of…
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Judge Higbee Denies Motion to Recuse

In December, we noted that defendants in the Accutane litigation pending in Atlantic County, New Jersey had filed a motion seeking to recuse Judge Carol Higbee, to whom virtually all the Accutane cases in New Jersey have been assigned since 2005.  In their application, the defendants — Hoffman-La Roche Inc. and Roche Laboratories Inc. — detailed examples of what they believed were indicative of both actual and apparent bias on the part of Judge Higbee against the defendants and in favor of the plaintiffs.  Oral…
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Stryker Hip Stem Claims Latest Multicounty Litigation in New Jersey

Earlier this month, the New Jersey Supreme Court granted an application to centralize all New Jersey state court claims involving Stryker Rejuvenate Hip Stems and ABG II Modular Hip Stems before the Hon. Brian Martinotti in Bergen County. Unlike the recent applications for centralizations of claims involving the Mirena contraceptive device and certain NexGen knee implant products — which were both denied (as we previously noted here and here) — the application for centralization of the Stryker Hip Stems claims was submitted by plaintiffs’…
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Centralized Management Denied for Bayer’s Mirena Claims

In a decision reached earlier this month and posted last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court has denied an application submitted by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for centralized management of all pending state court actions involving its Mirena contraceptive device.  No reasons for the denial are provided in the notice, so practitioners in this area are left without any guidance as to why the Supreme Court rejected the application.  This is similar to the Supreme Court’s previous denial of centralization of the litigation involving NexGen…
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Another Centralized Pharmaceutical Litigation in New Jersey?

As we have posted about before, New Jersey has an established system for coordinated, centralized litigation involving claims against pharmaceuticals and medical devices.  While the nomenclature has recently changed from “mass tort” to “multicounty litigation” the process and procedures remain the same. A new addition to New Jersey’s lineup of centralized pharmaceutical and medical device litigation may be in the offing:  this week, the New Jersey Judiciary posted an application submitted by Weitz & Luxenberg to formally centralize litigation involving two different hip stems…
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New Jersey Replaces “Mass Torts” with “Multicounty Litigation”

In a move that will likely please defendants facing consolidated litigation in New Jersey, the New Jersey Supreme Court has approved changes to Rule 4:38A — the New Jersey Court Rule that authorizes the centralized management of similar cases — that will term such cases “multicounty litigation” instead of a “mass tort.”  (A complete copy of all forthcoming changes to the New Jersey Court Rules, including Rule 4:38A, is here.)  This change in nomenclature, which is effective as of September 4, 2012, does not…
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New Jersey Supreme Court Denies Centralized Management for NexGen Flex Products Claims

In a decision apparently made last month but only published at the end of last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court has denied an application for centralized management of all pending state court claims involving certain NexGen Flex knee replacement products.  We noted the pendency of this application earlier this year. Unlike many applications for centralized management or mass tort status in New Jersey that are submitted by plaintiffs — who often seek the procedural and other benefits of coordinated proceedings — the NexGen application
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Treating Physicians’ Right to Disagree With Their Patients

A recent appellate decision allowed defendants’ retention of experts who previously treated one or more of the hundreds of plaintiffs claiming damages in the pelvic mesh litigation against Johnson & Johnson. The decision in In Re Pelvic Mesh/Gynecare Litigation   should have a positive impact for the defense of mass litigation as well as the development of treating physician fact witness testimony in “ordinary” personal injury and products liability cases.  The Appellate Division rejected plaintiffs’ argument that treating physicians have a broad duty to “refuse affirmative…
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New Jersey Mass Tort Program Continues To Expand

New Jersey is known for many things, including an established state court mass tort program.  Currently, there are twenty litigations under centralized management in three different courts (Atlantic, Bergen, and Middlesex Counties) being managed by four separate judges (Hon. Carol Higbee, Hon. Brian Martinotti, Hon. Jessica Mayer, and Hon. Ann McCormick). New Jersey has a specific court rule – Rule 4:38A – that authorizes centralization of cases for coordinated management.  The New Jersey Supreme Court has also promulgated written guidelines for determining whether or not…
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