Mass Torts to Watch in 2022

After a pandemic-induced quiet year in 2020, last year saw a lot of action on the mass tort front. In 2021, we saw $11 billion in Roundup settlements and over a dozen bellwether test trials in various MDL class action lawsuits.

It appears 2022 will be a very eventful year for mass torts. We could see global settlements in two or maybe three major mass tort MDLs, including the biggest of them all, the 3M Earplugs MDL.

Let’s talk about what we can expect in 2022 in the mass tort class action lawsuits with the highest predicted settlement payouts.

Throwing out the $4.5 billion settlement with Purdue Pharma is the right call

A federal judge’s decision to overturn a $4.5 billion settlement between Purdue Pharma and assorted state, local, and tribal governments is the right call. The settlement wrongly shielded the billionaire Sackler family, who owned the company that made the prescription painkiller OxyContin, from any and all civil liability in opioid-related tragedies.

As reported by The New York Times, the settlement was part of a complex restructuring plan for Purdue Pharma that was approved in September by a bankruptcy judge. But Judge Colleen McMahon of the US District of New York pulled the plug on it, because it protected the Sackler family from future civil lawsuits. After the Sacklers took more than $10 billion out of it, Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy. The Sacklers, who did not file for personal bankruptcy, offered to contribute toward the original settlement, “if – and only if – every member of the family could ‘achieve global peace’ from all civil [not criminal] litigation,” the judge wrote. And that, she said, was wrong. She did, however, also call the legal issue of the Sacklers’ release “a great unsettled question” of bankruptcy law and wrote, “This opinion will not be the last word on the subject, nor should it.”

$22.5 Million Verdict in 3M Combat Earplug Trial

A jury in Pensacola, Florida has awarded U.S. Army Veteran Theodore Finley $22.5 million in a lawsuit seeking damages for hearing loss and tinnitus caused by combat earplugs sold by 3M Co. This latest verdict surpasses seven previous verdicts, including a $13 million verdict awarded by jurors to a U.S. Army sergeant last month.

“It is always upsetting to see large, multi-billion corporations putting their profits above the safety and health of their consumers,” said Texas Attorney Thomas J. Henry. “In this case, however, we saw 3M Co. take advantage of our U.S. servicemen and women. That is simply unacceptable, and the jury’s verdict shows that the people our military members serve will not stand for it.”

Merrimack-based Atrium Medical announces settlement in hernia mesh litigation

Atrium Medical Corp. in Merrimack has settled litigation over its hernia mesh implants in what may be one the largest mass tort suits ever heard in New Hampshire courts.

The settlement has not been finalized or released, but Gitinge Group, Atrium’s Swedish parent company, announced on Dec. 8 that it has set aside the equivalent of more than $66 million to deal with the New Hampshire mesh litigation.

Zantac MDL Moves Forward As Parties Select Cases for Bellwether Trials

On April 1, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested manufacturers withdraw all prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine (Zantac) drugs from the market. This, after tests, showed the products could contain N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a potent carcinogen.

Meanwhile, many consumers had already filed Zantac lawsuits, claiming that they had taken the drug for years and were later diagnosed with cancer as a result. In February 2020, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all federally filed Zantac lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida for consolidated pre-trial proceedings.

Now the judge overseeing the Zantac MDL has ordered the parties to randomly select 200 cases to be part of an initial discovery pool.

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