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Bridge Legal September Tort Roundup

on September 30, 2022

Our monthly roundup of the latest news and topics impacting your practice.

We know that providing your clients with the latest developments in tort cases is essential. That’s why we compile the highlights from our Tort Report newsletter so you can keep track of the latest news and topics impacting your practice.

Interested in receiving weekly tort updates? Subscribe to our weekly Tort Report here.

3M continues to battle earplug and PFAS cases.

Two U.S. military veterans sued 3M Co to block the planned spinoff of its healthcare business, which they called an illegal attempt to avoid compensating veterans for hearing damage caused by the company’s military-issue earplugs.

3M continued its attempt to use U.S. bankruptcy laws to shield itself from a mountain of personal injury lawsuits, but eventually, the bankruptcy judge rejected a key aspect of its legal strategy. The company is now facing an uphill battle to find a way to control its costs stemming from 230,000 lawsuits on behalf of military veterans.

Separately from the earplug cases, 3M and Wolverine World Wide Inc. will pay $54 million as part of a proposed class action settlement over allegations they’re responsible for the release of PFAS chemicals into the environment in Kent County, Mich., according to a federal judge who granted preliminary approval to the deal.

Claims continue to pick up after the passing of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021.

About 5,000 claims over contaminated water at North Carolina Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune have been filed in the first month since new legislation removed roadblocks for the cases, according to the U.S. Navy, setting up the potential for one of the largest mass litigations in U.S. history.

A former marine stationed at Camp Lejeune was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which he claims was directly caused by PFAS contamination in the water he drank and bathed in from 1985 to 1987. The complaint joins thousands of similar AFFF lawsuits currently pending against 3M Company, Buckeye Fire Equipment, Co. Dupont De Nemours, Inc., and other companies.

Pharmaceutical litigation picks up for a number of companies.

A form of contamination called nitrosamines surfaced among makers of some of the world’s best-selling pharmaceuticals including Merck, Pfizer, and Zantac. Trial judgments over nitrosamines against the makers of Zantac, including GSK and Sanofi, could reach $45 billion alone.

Twenty nearly identical, 100-page civil complaints were filed in Manhattan this month accusing Pfizer and other drugmakers of turning a blind eye to the dangers of Zantac — the branded name for ranitidine — as it reaped them $1 billion a year in sales.

Multidistrict litigation is looming for several pharma companies—including GSK, Sanofi, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Thermo Fisher—that manufactured and marketed Zantac. The federal litigation targets five types of cancers allegedly caused by consumption of the heartburn medicine.

Firefighter foam litigation moving in favor of victims.

Parties involved in federal firefighter foam litigation submitted proposals regarding which specific water contamination lawsuit should be the first to go before a jury next year.

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) lawsuits, including cancer claims brought by former firefighters and water contamination claims, has rejected a motion for summary judgment filed by 3M Co. which tried to argue that manufacturers of the toxic foam should be immune from liability for poisoning public water supplies under a “government contractor” defense.

Amid rising concerns about widespread water contamination and health risks from firefighting foam products, the U.S. Department of Defense indicates it will transition away from the use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) products that contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

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