Articles Posted in Product Defect Litigation

Marilyn Adams had a long history of hip pain. In September 2010, she was diagnosed with advanced degenerative arthritis.

Her orthopedic surgeon recommended a total hip replacement. She was told that the Zimmer hip device implanted in January 2011 could be expected to last 15-20 years.

However, in late 2012, Adams started experiencing severe hip pain. The cause was not clear.  Her February 2015 revision hip surgery revealed the Zimmer implant had been discharging excessive and potentially toxic metal debris into Adams’s hip.

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The 7th Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Chicago affirmed a verdict by the U.S. District Court as to the injuries suffered by Donald and Mary Timm in July 2013.  During that time period, the Timms set off on a cross-country motorcycle trip on their Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The Timms’ route began at their home in Dyer, Ind., with a final destination at Salt Lake City, Utah.

While crossing through the state of Nebraska, the Timms suffered a catastrophic accident when their motorcycle’s rear tire sustained a puncture and rapidly deflated causing Donald Timm to lose control of the motorcycle and crash into a concrete median barrier.

Mary Timm flew off the motorcycle while Donald remained attached to the bike as it slid across the highway. Although both riders were wearing helmets, each sustained serious head injuries.  Donald sustained a traumatic brain injury as well as facial fractures and a cervical spine injury.

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John Smokes worked for a temporary employment agency, Adecco Staffing and was assigned to work at Dentsply Prosthetics. While at work at Dentsply, Smokes was trained on the operation of a rotary mold press machine.

Two weeks after starting his training, while placing a mold into the load area of the mold press, Smokes’s hand became caught in the machine’s automatic push mechanism, causing his long, ring, and index fingers to be crushed by two platens.

Although he pressed the emergency stop button, the platens did not reopen, and his hand was trapped for almost a half hour while his coworkers dissembled the press.

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St. Louis City Circuit Court judge refused to grant Johnson & Johnson’s motions following the July 13, 2018 jury verdict of $4.7 billion against Johnson & Johnson for injuries suffered by 22 women. This verdict was the largest by far against Johnson & Johnson in cases against it brought by women who have claimed that ovarian cancer was caused by use of the baby powder. The St. Louis City Circuit Court Judge Rex Burlison concluded in his opinion that there was “substantial evidence” to support the $550 million in compensatory damages and that punitive damages that totaled more than $4 billion were constitutional.

Judge Burlison added: “First, substantial evidence was adduced at trial of particularly reprehensible conduct on the part of defendants (Johnson & Johnson and others), including that defendants knew of the presence of asbestos in products that they knowingly targeted for sale to mothers and babies, knew of the damage their products caused, and misrepresented the safety of these products for decades.” The judge also said, “Second, defendants’ actions caused significant physical harm and potential physical harm, including causing ovarian cancer in plaintiffs or plaintiffs’ decedents.”

Judge Burlison also noted that the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act was a law that also provided for potential penalties against Johnson & Johnson.

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The First District Appellate Court affirmed a decision of a Cook County trial court.

In 1999, Snake River Technology d/b/a Rocky Mountain Cryobanks, a Wyoming company, was purchased by the New England Cryogenics Center, a Massachusetts corporation that collects, stores and sells human sperm.

The purchase included the sperm donor samples in possession of Snake River. In 2009, one such sperm sample was sold to an Oklahoma couple, the Kretchmars, who had a child. The child developed cystic fibrosis; a genetic test revealed that the child had received the Delta-F508 cystic fibrosis gene mutation from the donor sperm.

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago has affirmed the grant of defendant’s motion for summary judgment in the plaintiff’s lawsuit that alleged that the product Testim, which was manufactured by Auxilium Pharmaceuticals as a topical gel containing testosterone, caused the plaintiff, Isaac Owens, to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

The federal district court in Chicago granted Auxilium’s motion to exclude Owens’ sole expert witness on the issue of causation linking Testim to his medical condition.

The appeals panel stated that the district court could properly exclude causation testimony from the Owens’ expert, when: (1) although the expert opined that Testim had caused plaintiff’s DVT, he did so under the assumption that Owens was applying the prescribed dose of the gel in the proper manner; (2) Owens conceded that he had used only half of the prescribed dosage and applied the gel in the wrong parts of his body; and (3) Owens’ expert could not express an opinion regarding causation under circumstances that more accurately described Owens’ use and application of Testim.

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Theodore Joas underwent a total knee replacement at a Wisconsin hospital receiving a Zimmer NexGen Flex knee implant.  Within a few years, he began experiencing pain in his new knee.  X-rays confirmed that the implant had loosened and required a surgical repair.

He brought a series of claims against Zimmer Inc., the implant manufacturer.  His case was transferred to a multi-district litigation in the Northern District of Illinois where it was eventually treated as a bellwether case.

The court applied Wisconsin law and granted summary judgment in favor of Zimmer.

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An Indiana federal jury returned a $35 million verdict in favor of Barbara Kaiser who alleged she was injured by a vaginal mesh implant.

The jury’s verdict found that defendants Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon Inc. were negligent in the design of the trans-vaginal mesh and then chose not to adequately warn patients and physicians of the risk.

Trans-vaginal mesh is used to treat stressed urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, a condition that occurs when a woman’s bladder or another pelvic organ drops from its normal place and then pushes up against the walls of the vagina.

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There have been multiple reports of deaths and/or agonizing, horrible injuries caused when motorists strike highway or road guardrails designed and manufactured by Lindsay Corp., the maker and designer of X-LITE guardrails.

The recent lawsuits filed in South Carolina and Tennessee allege that Lindsay Corp. was negligent in design of the X-LITE guardrails, which are supposed to absorb impact when vehicles hit them. Instead, the guardrails have been known to pierce through motor vehicles either killing drivers and passengers or severely injuring those in such vehicles.

In April 2017, a woman died in Spartanburg County, SC, when the SUV that her husband was driving went off the road running into the guardrail. On impact, the beams from the guardrail pierced through the vehicle’s exterior and frame puncturing all the way through to the backseat on the passenger side.

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S.V. and Hemalatha Gopalratnam sued the laptop manufacturer Hewlett-Packard claiming that its battery pack maker, DynaPack Technology Corp. and battery cell manufacturer, Samsung SDI Co. Ltd. were a cause of the death of their son, Arun Gopalratnam who died in a fire in the basement bedroom of the Gopalratnam’s home. An autopsy showed that Arun’s death was caused by smoke inhalation.

The origin of this fire was said to have been near the mattress of Arun’s bed, according to Special Agent Antonio H. Martinez of the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigations. Included in the debris was the HP laptop, a Nokia cellphone and 2 or 3 laptop battery cells in the basement bedroom and a third laptop battery cell in the debris, which was shoveled into the backyard.

The lawsuit included claims of negligence, strict product liability and breach of warranty. To support these claims, the Gopalratnam family hired two expert witnesses who gave opinion testimony at trial that one of the three battery cells experienced “thermal runaway,” which generated high temperatures causing the cell to explode and catch fire.

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