A mass tort is defined as a civil action involving numerous plaintiffs against one or few defendants in state or federal court. Mass torts occur when a single wrongful action causes injury to many different people. In a mass tort lawsuit, each individual plaintiff has their own claim with a distinct set of damages whereas in a class action lawsuit, claims are not considered individually and a settlement or verdict is split evenly through the members of the class.
Below are four mass tort lawsuits that are moving forward in the United States.
Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium) capsules are a prescription drug used to treat pain or discomfort in the bladder caused by internal cystitis. On October 12, 2019, a major study presented to the American Academy of Ophthalmology found that about one-quarter of patients taking Elmiron showed signs of eye damage and that the medication toxicity could masquerade as other known retinal conditions. Elmiron is the most commonly prescribed drug for patients with internal cystitis and is not available in general. As a result of the study, plaintiffs have filed vision loss lawsuits against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Branded Pharmaceuticals, and Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceuticals. The suits allege failure to warn.
Talcum powder is used in baby powder, makeup, deodorant, foot pads, dry shampoo and feminine hygiene products. Talcum powders have been marketed to women as part of their feminine hygiene routine. Ovarian cancer research has indicated a possible link to talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Research has also shown that a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer was 41% when talcum powder was used daily. A previous jury verdict in a talcum powder case against Johnson and Johnson awarded 22 plaintiffs $4.69 billion. The Johnson and Johnson lawsuit was based on failure to warn and many other mass torts filed against Johnson and Johnson and other talcum powder manufacturers allege the same.
Paragard is a copper intrauterine device that is used to prevent pregnancy. Paragard, which first surfaced in the 1980’s has recently gained attention due to claims that the device can break and imbed into other internal organs. This can lead to difficult removal that may require invasive surgery. Lawsuits have been filed against Teva Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Paragard, that allege failure to warn of the possibility of device breakage and misrepresentation of the device’s safety and effectiveness when the device was actually defective.
Popular herbicide Roundup has been used for decades to kill weeds. Mass torts filed against Monsanto, the previous owner of the brand (Bayer acquired Roundup in 2018) alleging that they were aware of the link between Roundup’s main ingredient glyphosate and various types of cancer. The first Roundup trials occurred in 2019, plaintiffs were awarded millions of dollars in damages and these verdicts paved the way for further litigation. In 2020, Bayer announced settlements totaling $12.1 billion which included as much as $10.9 billion for Roundup claimants.
Thanks to Eglet Adams, mass torts attorneys, for their insight on current mass tort lawsuits in the United States.