The holiday season is upon us, and the Mass Tort Unit at Searcy Denney has been working diligently to advance the interests of our clients who have been injured by a number of different defective drugs and medical devices. Here are some highlights of noteworthy events for the the weeks after Thanksgiving until the present:
- Searcy Denney, through its local counsel in Los Angeles, filed an individual lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of California on behalf of a Fountain Valley office manager who was injured by a defective hernia mesh patch manufactured and marketed by Davol, Inc. and C.R. Bard. These defendants have their headquarters in Rhode Island and New Jersey. Davol is a subsidiary of C. R. Bard and one of the largest manufacturers of surgical products used to repair hernias (both through open as well as laparoscopic procedures). This plaintiff was implanted with a Bard/Davol Composix Kugel Hernia Mesh patch in 2008. This product shares similar characteristics with the Kugel Hernia mesh patches that were part of multiple recalls between 2005 and 2007, after numerous reports of buckling and breakage of the embedded memory recoil ring. This patient has undergone numerous medical procedures and surgeries as a result of the failure of the implanted hernia mesh product. The hernia mesh manufacturers have faced several thousand lawsuits over the past 7 years, with about 2/3 of those cases being settled recently and ongoing settlement negotiations in the remaining cases, which are being supervised by the Providence, Rhode Island state and federal court judges before whom most of the lawsuits have been filed.
- Cal Warriner of Searcy Denney, along with our local counsel, filed yet another individual lawsuit in Bergen County, New Jersey against Stryker and Howmedica Osteonics. This case is part of the coordinated proceedings that have been established in state court in New Jersey against Stryker over its recalled Rejuvenate and ABGII modular hip implants. Our law firm has the largest number of filed cases in the country involving this recalled hip implant device, and our lawyers are helping to lead the national litigation efforts. Virtually all of the individual lawsuits filed so far have been filed in state court in New Jersey. This latest case was filed on behalf of a 49 year old patient in Little Rock, Arkansas who was implanted with a recalled Stryker Rejuvenate hip implant in late 2010 at Arkansas Surgical Hospital. He recently received a notification that the device was being recalled due to numerous reports of galvanization, corrosion, and deterioration of the modular components used in the device. The recall notice was issued in early July of 2012, but many patients may still be unaware of the recall, as they are being informed by their surgeons at the time of their annual follow up visits. This particular patient developed pain and instability in the hip implant within a few months of the initial surgery. Since his surgeon had no way of knowing in 2011 about the problems with the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABGII femoral stems, the surgeon ordered a number of treatments in hopes of alleviating his chronic hip pain, including injections, pain medications, and physical therapy.
- Cal Warriner gave a presentation on the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABGII litigation at a lawyers’ conference in Dallas on November 28, 2012. This conference was sponsored by HarrisMartin and was entitled MDL Conference: Fungal Meningitis, Stryker Hip, Mirena IUD and More. The conference included a number of prominent mass tort lawyers from around the country who discussed the latest developments in litigation involving DePuy ASR hip implants; DePuy Pinnacle hip implants; Actos; Bard IVC Filters; Biomet M2A metal-on-metal hip implants; Stryker and ABGII modular hip implants; Transvaginal mesh products; Zoloft birth defect claims; Pradaxa; New England Compounding meningitis cases; and Mirena IUD. The conference also covered general legal topics that are relevant to drug and medical device litigation including use of artificial intelligence, predictive coding, and concept searching to simplify voluminous product of discovery materials; tips for making arguments regarding MDLs before the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation; and the nuts and bolts of use of privilege logs.
- An oral argument hearing was held before the Pennsylvania Superior Court that will impact the firm’s Reglan clients as well as nearly 2,000 other plaintiffs whose cases are currently pending before Judge Sandra Moss in Philadelphia. In 2011, Judge Moss denied the motion of Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and other manufacturers of Reglan to dismiss the cases on the basis of generic preemption. Attorneys for the generic drug manufacturers contend that Judge Moss’s ruling allowing the more than 2,000 individual Reglan lawsuits to proceed against the generic manufacturers of Reglan was incorrect in light of the United States Supreme Court ruling in the Pliva v. Mensing, a case which also involved a plaintiff who developed tardive dyskinesia after long-term ingestion of Reglan. The plaintiffs contend that the Mensing decision does not give complete immunity to generic drug manufacturers for the harm caused by their products, and that certain state court claims should be permitted to proceed. Brenda Fulmer of Searcy Denney has been working with the American Association for Justice (AAJ) and other lawyers around the country to fix the legal loopholes that led to the Mensing decision, which represents a serious threat to drug safety in this country. Congress has the ability to close this loophole so that generic drug manufacturers would have the same obligations and liability for the content of their drug’s warning labels, but those legislative efforts have been stalled by a Republican-controlled Congress which has chosen to protect drug manufacturers over patients.
Patient safety advocates are hopeful that the new members of Congress who begin work in January will be willing to eliminate the immunity for generic drug manufacturers, so that those drug companies will be responsible for the safety of their products and not be permitted to continue to push the costs of treating patients harmed by dangerous drugs, such as the patients who developed tardive dyskinesia after ingesting Reglan, to governmental insurers and ultimately the taxpayers.