Category: Defective Drugs

Eliquis Lawsuits Move Forward

By Emily Cox
Eliquis Lawsuits
Photo by Bill Tyne

The growing number of Eliquis lawsuits involving individuals who suffered uncontrollable bleeding while on the controversial blood thinner are beginning to move forward in the newly established federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).

Following the MDL’s first conference last month, Judge Denise L. Cote issued a scheduling order. The order outlines how the Eliquis lawsuits will move forward. The plaintiffs will submit their proposal for a Steering Committee by Friday. This committee will play an important role in helping the plaintiffs during discovery and pretrial proceedings.

The order also calls for the parties to submit proposed plaintiff and defendant fact sheets, along with case management orders related to them, by April 14. A proposed protective order and proposed protocol for conducting electronic discovery is due at this time as well. A proposed coordination order for state and federal Eliquis lawsuits is due by April 28.

Following an initial exchange of interrogatories and document requests early next month, the parties will submit a proposed discovery schedule by June 2. This schedule will determine how information will be exchanged going forward in the litigation.

It’s likely that Judge Cote will establish a bellwether trial process in the future. These trials will involve a small group of Eliquis cases that will get early trial dates. They will help gauge how juries will react to evidence that will be repeated throughout the litigation. However, these cases probably will not go to trial until late 2018.

Eliquis Lawsuits

Eliquis is part of a new group of blood thinners that include Xarelto and Pradaxa. Manufacturers of these drugs aggressively marketed them as replacements for Coumadin (warfarin) to prevent blood clots. However, unlike warfarin, there was no an antidote to reverse the drugs’ blood thinning effects. Consequently, there are a disturbing number of serious bleeding reports involving Eliquis, Xarelto, and Pradaxa. These incidents often result in hospitalization or death.

Pradaxa and Xarelto hit the market first in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Both drugs quickly became the subject of thousands of lawsuits alleging the manufacturers failed to warn about the bleeding risks and lack of reversal agents. Xarelto currently has more than 15,000 lawsuits pending nationwide with plaintiffs who suffered severe and often fatal bleeding complications.

While Xarelto and Pradaxa gained widespread notoriety, Eliquis quietly became the most used member of the drug class despite similar bleeding risks. Consequently, there is now a rapidly rising tide of Eliquis lawsuits, claiming the drug maker failed to warn about the risks.

 

More Than 100,000 Johnson & Johnson Lawsuits Over Defective Products Stink of Corporate Corruption

By Emily Cox
Johnson & Johnson Lawsuits
Photo by Open Grid Scheduler/Grid Engine

The staggering number of Johnson & Johnson lawsuits, alleging harm from product defects, suggests that the baby powder company does care but not about people. These lawsuits indicate the company was only looking after its financial interests instead of the consumers they purport to help.

In its most recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Filings, the company indicated there are almost 103,000 Johnson & Johnson lawsuits pending against five of its products. This includes 54,800 pelvic mesh lawsuits; 18,500 Risperdal claims; 16,900 Xarelto lawsuits; 9,400 Pinnacle hip replacement claims; and 3,100 talcum powder cases.

In 2016, the company lost six of the seven largest jury verdicts in the U.S. over product defects. Comparatively, companies rarely have more than two to three product defect verdicts above $20 million in any given year. Johnson & Johnson lost six of more than $50 million. The company lost all three talcum powder cases that went to trial in 2016. These included verdicts for $72 million, $70 million, and $55 million. It lost two hip implant cases, as well. One was for $1 billion, and the other was for $500 million. It also lost the largest ever Risperdal verdict for $70 million. The previous record  was $2.5 million.

While these lawsuits are for different products, they all allege that the company knew that these products were dangerous but chose to conceal the risks to continue to profit from them.

Johnson & Johnson is facing at least 17 trials in state and federal courts this year against these products.

Johnson & Johnson Lawsuits – Overview

Pinnacle hip implant cases allege that the company’s Pinnacle products fail, resulting in heavy metal poisoning, pain and additional replacement surgeries. Pelvic mesh plaintiffs claim the mesh erodes, necessitating additional surgery. Women with ovarian cancer are filing claims against the company’s flagship baby powder and Shower-to-Shower products. They allege the talc in these products caused their illnesses. Boys who took Risperdal claim the anti-psychotic drug caused them to grow female breasts. Finally, lawsuits over Xarelto allege the blood thinner can cause uncontrollable bleeding, resulting in hospitalizations and even death. Lawsuits over Xarelto have more than tripled in the past year from 5,000 to 16,900.

In all these Johnson & Johnson lawsuits, plaintiffs maintain that company knew the risks of its products but refused to disclose them, putting their own financial interests before human lives.

Johnson & Johnson denies any product liability and is refusing to settle. This isn’t necessarily because the company truly believes itself right. The longer it can draw out the process, the more likely of discouraging plaintiffs and whittling down claims.

Johnson & Johnson Lawsuits – DePuy Pinnacle Hip

The Pinnacle hip is a metal-on-metal hip replacement system. These lawsuits claim the friction from the metal components rubbing together results in the near-immediate systemic release of high level of toxic metal ions into patients’ bodies. As of 2011, there were approximately 1,086 adverse events reports with the FDA regarding failures or complications from DePuy Pinnacle devices. Despite patients reporting severe pain, complicated revision surgeries, and life-long health problems, Johnson & Johnson continues to sell Depuy Pinnacle hip replacement components.

Johnson & Johnson Lawsuits – Pelvic Mesh

Pelvic mesh, or transvaginal mesh, and bladder sling products are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and female urinary incontinence by supporting internal organs. Ethicon is one of about a half-dozen different manufacturers of these products, facing product liability, with more than 100,000 lawsuits, alleging serious harm from the devices.

The U.S. Federal Drug Administration has received almost 130,000 adverse event reports regarding pelvic mesh products for complications including nerve damage, organ perforation, vaginal scarring, infection, severe pain, and fistulas, as well as mesh erosion and migration. Mesh erosion is one of the most serious complications related to pelvic mesh. It occurs when the mesh device moves through the vaginal wall and into other organs.

Johnson & Johnson Lawsuits – Talcum Powder

Since 1971, more than 20 studies have generated evidence that there is a significant connection between talc and ovarian cancer.  In 1993, the U.S. National Toxicology Program published a study that showed talc was a carcinogen. Consequently, numerous organizations classified talc as a carcinogen in 2006. Due to this, Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier began including warnings with its talc shipments that same year. However, Johnson & Johnson still does not pass these warnings on to its consumers. In fact, the company specifically targets women to use it on their entire bodies, including their genital region.

Johnson & Johnson Lawsuits – Risperdal

Currently, there are several thousand pending Risperdal lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson involving the occurrence of abnormal breast growth in young men and boys as the result of taking the atypical antipsychotic. Plaintiffs claim that Johnson & Johnson and its Ortho-McNewil Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary knew or should have known about the abnormal breast growth, also known as gynecomastia, risk from Risperdal and willfully decided to hide this side effect from the general public and the medical community, failing to protect the consuming public.

Johnson & Johnson Lawsuits – Xarelto

The current lawsuits against the popular blood thinners claim that the manufacturers failed to warn that clinical trials had shown more gastrointestinal bleeds and more blood transfusions with Xarelto than warfarin. Warfarin was the most popular blood thinner on the market before the introduction of Xarelto.

While manufacturers indicated that there was a bleeding risk, plaintiffs claim they were not warned that there was no antidote to Xarelto to reverse uncontrolled bleeding caused by Xarelto. Whereas, uncontrolled bleeding with warfarin can be reversed with vitamin K. Consequently, even mild bleeding incidents can become exceptionally dangerous.

 

 

 

5,000 Fosamax Lawsuits Revived by Appeals Court

By Emily Cox
Fosamax Lawsuits Revived
Photo by OhLizz

The Third Circuit appeals court breathed new life into about 5,000 Fosamax cases, alleging the manufacturer failed to warn patients about the osteoporosis drug’s femur fracture risk.

The Third Circuit issued the landmark opinion last week. The formerly quashed multidistrict litigation (MDL) questions whether Fosamax manufacturer Merck Sharp & Dohme had a responsibility to include a warning label about the drug’s femoral fracture risk.

Fosamax Preemption

However, Merck almost dodged the litigation entirely based on a previous Supreme Court ruling. A District Court applied a Supreme Court 2009 ruling to dismiss the Fosamax lawsuits based on preemption. In Wyeth v. Levine, the Supreme Court held that state failure-to-warn claims are preempted when there is clear evidence that the FDA would not have approved a warning label that a lawsuit claims was necessary. This goes a long way to insulate national corporations from state-law failure-to-warn claims. However, the appeals court’s opinion indicates that the lower court misapplied the ruling.

“Preemption is an affirmative defense, and Merck has not carried its burden to prove that it is entitled to that defense as a matter of law,” the opinion states. “The Wyeth ‘clear evidence’ standard is demanding and fact-sensitive. It requires the factfinder to predict a highly probable outcome in a counterfactual world and, therefore, requires a court sitting in summary judgment to anticipate both the range of conclusions that a reasonable juror might reach and the certainty with which the juror would reach them.”

Merck had proposed Fosamax label revisions to include the bone fracture risk in 2009. Consequently, the company held that the law was on its side. While the FDA rejected the 2009 proposal, the appeals court found that this does not absolve Merck of its responsibilities.

“The burden and the responsibility to correct a drug label rests with the manufacturer, not the FDA,” Judge Julio Fuentes wrote in the opinion. “Once the FDA rejected Merck’s proposal, the ball was back in Merck’s court to submit a revised, corrected proposal.”

The Fosamax plaintiffs showed that the FDA would have approved a properly worded warning about the thigh fracture risk. Consequently, the cases will go forward.

Fosamax Lawsuits

Merck introduced Fosamax in 1995. The company didn’t add a thigh bone fracture risk warning label to the drug until 2011. Plaintiffs claim Merck knew about the risk for years but concealed it.

Fosamax was a blockbuster drug, seeing annual sales over $3 billion prior to Merck losing patent exclusivity in 2008. Although generic variations are now available, the brand name drug still saw $284 in sales in 2016.

 

 

Cancer Drug Manufacturer Risk Concealment Extends Statute of Limitations on Permanent Hair Loss Lawsuits

By Emily CoxCancer Drug Lawsuits

A new lawsuit indicates that the statute of limitations may have expired on some cases if breast cancer drug manufacturer Sanofi S.A. had come clean about the Taxotere’s permanent hair loss risk sooner.

Karen L. Greene filed the lawsuit Monday in the Eastern District of Louisiana. According to the lawsuit, Greene was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2013 and received treatment with Taxotere. She is alleging that Taxotere caused disfiguring permanent hair loss. The lawsuit also indicates that Sanofi overstated the effectiveness of Taxotere. It cites studies that show less toxic treatment to be just as effective as Taxotere. Furthermore, she claims that she may have chosen a different treatment if she had known all the facts about Taxotere.

Cancer Drug Statute of Limitations Discovery Extension

The lawsuit indicates that normally it may have been too late for Greene to file a lawsuit against the cancer drug’s manufacturer. However, statute of limitations does not begin to run until an individual discovers that a certain product or drug caused an injury. Since the company concealed the cancer drug’s risks, Greene could not have realized Taxotere caused her injuries until much more recently.

While Sanofi S.A. disclosed the risk of permanent hair loss to foreign patients and regulatory agencies as e
arly as 2005, it did not disclose these risks to American patients until late 2015. This disclosure only applies to breast cancer patients receiving the drug from that time on. Former patients must come upon this information for themselves, which could be significantly later.

The lawsuit also alleges that Sanofi S.A. aggressively and fraudulently overstated the effectiveness of Taxotere. However, the company was aware that studies showed less toxic treatments were just as effective. Consequently, Greene could not make an informed decision regarding her cancer care. Also, she could not have known she had better options available until recently either.

Breast Cancer Drug Lawsuits

Greene’s case joins the rapidly growing multidistrict litigation against Sanofi. These breast cancer survivors alleging that Sanofi put profits before patients, unnecessarily exposing them to the increased toxicity of Taxotere in order to increase profits from the cancer drug.

 

Joint Invokana Lawsuit Claims the Drug Caused Ketoacidosis and Kidney Failure

By Emily CoxInvokana Lawsuit

A group of seven plaintiffs filed a joint Invokana lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary, claiming that the diabetes drug caused diabetic ketoacidosis and kidney failure.

They filed the complaint March 16 in the District of New Jersey. The lawsuit includes plaintiffs Charles Pinkston, Pamela Gideon, Elia Lopez, Marie Luera, Opal Louise Simon, Anita Martinez, and Janice Brana. All of the plaintiffs are Texas residents. Their Invokana lawsuit claims that the drug manufacturers concealed Invokana’s risk of serious health problems from patients and the medical community.

Invokana Lawsuit History

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Invokana (canagliflozin) to treat type 2 diabetes in March 2013. The drug is part of relatively new class of diabetes drugs called SGLT2 inhibitors. These drugs work to control blood sugar in a unique way. They force excessive sugar to be excreted through urination. The medical community hailed these drugs as revolutionary when they first entered the market. However, this Invokana lawsuit claims that the drug puts too much pressure on the kidneys, leading to kidney injuries. Also, in the absence of blood sugar, the body turns to fat for energy. Consequently, this can lead to excessive ketones and ketoacidosis, which usually requires hospitalization to treat. Symptoms include abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, respiratory problems, and vomiting.

In 2015, the FDA required all SGLT2 inhibitors to include new diabetic ketoacidosis warnings. The Invokana warnings told users to stop using the drug and seek immediate medical attention if they experienced any ketoacidosis’ symptoms.

In 2016, the FDA mandated another warning label update to add information about the Invokana’s kidney risks. Consequently, the labels now indicate the risk of acute kidney injury and other serious health problems.

Invokana Lawsuit

This new Invokana lawsuit alleges that its manufacturers knew the severe health risks associated with Invokana but chose to conceal them. Instead, they continued to aggressively market the drug to increase Invokana’s sales despite the risks.

“Despite Defendants’ knowledge of the increased risk of severe injury among SLGT2 INHIBITOR users, Defendants did not warn patients, including Plaintiffs, but instead continued to defend SLGT2 INHIBITOR, mislead physicians and the public, and minimize unfavorable findings,” the lawsuit states. “Notwithstanding their actual knowledge of mounting concerns and documented patient problems, Defendants aggressively conducted nationwide sales and marketing campaigns to promote the sale of SLGT2 INHIBITOR and willfully deceived Plaintiffs, their health care professionals, the medical community, and the general public as to the health risks and consequences of the use of the SLGT2 INHIBITOR.”

This Invokana lawsuit joins a growing number of similar claims in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL). The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has centralized all these cases in the District of New Jersey.

 

Taxotere Lawsuits Over Permanent Hair Loss Swell to More Than 850 Cases

By Emily Cox
Taxotere Lawsuits
Photo by Skye D.

A recent court filing indicates that more than 850 women have filed Taxotere lawsuits, alleging the controversial breast cancer drug’s manufacturer failed to warn about Taxotere’s permanent hair loss risk, while fraudulently marketing the drug as more effective than other treatments that do not have the same risks.

Parties in the litigation filed the joint status report March 17. The report indicates that there are already at least 857 Taxotere cases pending in the new multidistrict litigation (MDL). There are also additional cases proceeding in California, Missouri, and Delaware state courts.

These Taxotere lawsuits allege that Sanofi S.A. knew and concealed the drug’s permanent hair loss risk from American breast cancer patients. In fact, the company updated its warning labels in Canada and Europe in 2005 and 2012 respectively. Sanofi did not update U.S. warning labels until late 2015. Furthermore, the company actively promoted the high-potency taxane as more effective than other less toxic treatments, such as Taxol, even though research has shown that these less toxic treatments were equally effective and do not cause permanent hair loss. The FDA even had to issue a warning to Sanofi to stop fraudulently marketing Taxotere as being more effective than other treatments.

Hair loss is a known and accepted side effect of chemotherapy. However, plaintiffs claim that Sanofi provided false and misleading information that suggested hair regrows after Taxotere treatments. However, this is not the case for many women.

Taxotere Lawsuits

In October 2016, the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized all federal Taxotere lawsuits for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt in the Eastern District of Louisiana. This centralization reduces duplicate discovery and conflicting rulings, promoting judicial efficiency. Experts expect that Taxotere lawsuits will number in the several thousands in the coming years.

Judge Engelhardt has scheduled the next status conference for all parties on May 12.

 

FDA Bends to Big Pharma and Postpones Off-Label Marketing Final Rule

By Emily Cox
Big Pharma Off-Label Marketing
Photo by Mike Licht

In response to a petition filed by pharmaceutical groups, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has delayed implementing a final rule that would give the agency greater leeway to regulate off-label marketing.

While drug makers requested an indefinite stay on the rule, the FDA delayed executing this final rule until March 2018. The rule would require drug makers to update product labeling if there is evidence that the company intended people to use its medicine for off-label uses or for an unapproved use. Doctors can prescribe drugs for any reason. However, court rulings have determined that pharmaceutical companies can only engage in off-label marketing if the information is truthful and not misleading.

The Medical Information Working Group (MIWG), the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), filed the Petition to Stay and for Reconsideration on February 8, 2017. These groups expressed outrage over the FDA’s unexpected publishing of the rule in January.

“FDA’s revisions were not communicated to the public prior to the Final Rule published on January 9, 2017, which deprived stakeholders of fair notice and an opportunity to be heard in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA),” the petition states.

Furthermore, the trade groups claim the rule gives the FDA too much leeway.

“The final rule would give the FDA an extraordinarily wide leeway to gauge how a company intended its medicine to be used, which can then be used to assess whether illegal promotion occurred,” the groups said.

The FDA asserts that these groups misunderstood the ruling. However, the agency still relented, extending the March 21, 2017 deadline by almost a year.

Taxotere Off-Label Marketing Lawsuit

The ruling delay comes as Sanofi S.A. faces a Qui Tam lawsuit for off-label marketing of Taxotere. The lawsuit claims the company used fraudulent and illegal off-label marketing to drive sales and expand its market share. The FDA approved the high-potency taxane to treat advanced breast cancer when other treatments have failed.

Sanofi S.A. allegedly trained and directed their employees to misrepresent the safety and effectiveness of off-label Taxotere. This expanded its market into unapproved settings like first line treatment and less advanced cancer. The lawsuit claims that the company also paid doctors illegal kickbacks to get them to prescribe Taxotere for off-label uses. These kickbacks included entertainment, sports, concert tickets, sham grans, speaking fees, travel preceptorship fees, and fee reimbursement assistance.

These illicit measures dramatically increased the breast cancer drug’s revenue from $424 million in 2000 to $1.4 billion in 2004. It also exposed thousands of women to Taxotere’s increased toxicity and its more severe side effects, including permanent hair loss.

Additional civil lawsuits continue to mount rapidly as more women discover Taxotere unnecessarily disfigured them.

 

 

 

Taxotere Side Effects Linked to Five Deaths in France

By Emily Cox
Taxotere Side Effects
Photo by Matt Bachelor

Taxotere side effects may be responsible for at least five deaths in France, leading the nation’s product safety agency to urge doctors to avoid using the controversial chemotherapy drug to treat certain cases of breast cancer.

All five women passed away since August 2016 and were 46 to 73 years old. Researchers began investigating the issue after the third death. As a result, they have concluded that Taxotere side effects played at least some part in these women’s deaths.

The French National Drug and Health Product Safety Agency (ANSM) issued a warning to oncologists last month. The letter indicated that Taxotere side effects may have caused several deaths. The chemotherapy treatment appears to have caused neutropenic enterocolitis. This condition causes inflammation of the mucosa of the colon and small intestines. The agency went on to recommend that doctors use Abraxane instead to treat localized, operable breast cancer.

Researchers note that all deaths were associated with generic Taxotere (docetaxel). However, they found no irregularities with the generic drug. Accord Healthcare, an Indian drug company, supplied the drug, and tests showed that it meets quality standards.

The ANSM is continuing this investigation. The agency expects to release the results on March 28.

Taxotere Side Effects Lawsuits

Sanofi-Aventis, the maker of brand-name Taxotere, is facing a growing number of Taxotere side effect lawsuits. These lawsuits allege that the company knew and concealed the risk of permanent hair loss from women and the medical community.

The company updated Taxotere warning labels in Canada and Europe to include this risk in 2005 and 2012 respectively. However, it didn’t update American warning labels until late 2015.

Sanofi-Aventis introduced Taxotere in 1996. It is a high-potency taxane cancer drug. The company marketed it as superior to existing low-potency taxanes like Taxol. However, researchers and the FDA have found that it is no more effective. Furthermore, it has been linked to permanent hair loss and other side effects not associated with other taxanes.

These women allege that they would have chosen a different breast cancer treatment if they had known about Taxotere side effects and true efficacy.

Eliquis Bleeding Permanently Damages Man

By Emily Cox
Eliquis Bleeding
Photo by gurmit singh

A recent product liability lawsuit against the anticoagulant manufacturers alleges that Eliquis bleeding permanently damaged a New York man.

David Reed filed the complaint in Delaware Superior Court on February 27. He claims that Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer misrepresented Eliquis as safe and effective, while concealing the significant uncontrollable bleeding risks.

According to the complaint, Reed began taking Eliquis on January 8, 2015, after vascular surgery. He was hospitalized for bleeding complications by January 26, 2015. He was hospitalized again March 30, 2015, due to gastrointestinal bleeding. Reed claims he has suffered severe pain and permanent damages that could have been avoided if the companies had provided adequate warnings and information about the risk of Eliquis bleeding.

“Had Plaintiff known the true facts with respect to the dangerous and serious health and safety concerns of Eliquis, Plaintiff would not have purchased, used, and relied on Defendant’s drug Eliquis,” the claim states.

According to the lawsuit, the drug makers concealed their knowledge of Eliquis’ defects, defrauding and deceiving the public, FDA, and medical community.

Eliquis received FDA approval in 2012. The lawsuit alleges that the ARTISTOTLE clinical trials were a determining factor for Eliquis’ approval. However, it further claims that the drug makers chose “incompetent and untrustworthy” agents in China to conduct the study to cut costs. Allegedly, the companies concealed side effects in test users, including Eliquis bleeding and a death. There are also allegations of major dispensing errors where subjects were not even receiving Eliquis, poor quality control, and record destruction, as well as changing and falsifying records. In a February 2012 meeting with the FDA and company executives, the FDA characterized the companies as showing a pattern of inadequate supervision.

Eliquis Bleeding Risks

Eliquis is part of a new group of oral anticoagulants, known as factor xa medications. This group also includes Xarelto and Pradaxa.

While manufacturers aggressively marketed these drugs as a replacement for Coumadin (warfarin), manufacturers released them without antidotes for bleeding incidents. Whereas vitamin K can reverse Coumadin’s anticoagulant effects. Consequently, a large number of individuals have reported Eliquis bleeding problems.

“Before and after marketing Eliquis, Defendants became aware of many reports of serious hemorrhaging in users of its drug,” the complaint states.

The claim asserts that the side effect data generated obvious signals that Eliquis bleeding was a serious concern. However, manufacturers never alerted the public and scientific community. They also never performed further investigation into Eliquis’ safety.

In February, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all Eliquis proceedings in the Southern District of New York.

Pradaxa and Xarelto Lawsuits

The JPML has centralized litigation for Xarelto and Pradaxa as well. Pradaxa maker Boehringer Ingelheim agreed to pay $650 million in 2014 to resolve about 4,000 cases. Xarelto has more than 15,000 lawsuits pending in its centralized litigation over uncontrollable bleeding.

Class Action Restriction Bills Passed by House

By Emily Cox
Class Action
Photo by Joey Gannon

Washington, DC — Despite Democratic objections that class action restrictions would hurt the public’s ability to hold corporations accountable, the House of Representatives passed a pair of bills Thursday to make it harder to bring class actions and keep suits in state courts.

The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 and Innocent Party Protection Act radically limit the scope for class actions, while expanding the scope for finding fraudulent joinder in suits.

Republicans claim these bills will adjust the balance between “abusive plaintiffs” and “innocent defendants.” However, Democrats argue the bills are designed to protect corporate wrongdoers by making it harder for victims to band together. Democrats allege that these bills would make it almost impossible for victims injured by consumer rip-off, fault product design, and pharmaceutical drug mistakes, as well as lead and asbestos poisoning to bring class-action lawsuits.

“I oppose these misguided legislations, because it sends another huge valentine and wet kiss to large corporate polluters and tort-feasors but gives the finger to millions of American citizens who suffer injuries from these defendants,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md) said.

Democrats are joined by a large group of legal, environmental, disability, labor, civil rights, and consumer protection organizations in their opposition. They claim the bills would limit the ability to join a class action suit against defendants with exponentially greater resources.

“Christmas has certainly come early for corporate-America,” said Teddy Basham-Witherington, a spokesman for The Impact Fund, a nonprofit public interest law organization.

He went on to that, if passed, the class action restriction bills would “restrict ordinary people from accessing justice, emboldening the worst actors in corporate America.”

Class Action Restriction Bill (H.R. 985)

The class action bill would require plaintiffs to prove potential members have the same type and scope of injury. It also requires asbestos trusts to make details of trust claimants public.

“This doesn’t formally abolish the class-action mechanism,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said. “It’s not the guillotine, but it’s a straight jacket.”

Opponents also argue that the bill provides easy access to asbestos victims’ personal information for scam artists, employers, potential insurers, and debt collectors to potentially exploit.

The bill’s predecessor, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015 (H.R. 1927), passed the House but was not even considered by the Senate. According to opponents, this bill was far less damaging than the current legislation. Basham-Witherington described the new bill as “H.R. 1927 on steroids.”

Innocent Party Protection Act

This bill would prevent attorneys from adding defendants to a lawsuit to keep the case in state court. Democrats like Jerrold Nadler (NY) feel that it gives corporations another tool to transfer suits to corporate-friendly federal courts.

“The preliminary determination of jurisdiction would become a baseless time-consuming mini-trial before a second trial on the merits,” Nadler said. “While large corporations can accommodate such costs, injured workers, and parents cannot.”

Take Justice Back

The American Association for Justice has established a movement to help individuals take a stand against class action restriction. Take Justice Back has numerous websites to help people act against this unconstitutional legislation.

 

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