June 30, 2009
Roche Pulls Accutane Off the Market
Roche notified the FDA today that it was pulling Acctane (an acne medicine) off the market. The company faces at least $33 million damage award from jury trials and faces around 5,000 personal injury claims. Michael Hook (an FSU grad who graciously spoke to my complex litigation class this past spring about the litigation) won a $10.5 million claim against Roche in April of 2008 is quoted as saying, "We've been winning the cases with the drug still on the market, but this move certainly isn't going to hurt us going forward." Roche has already taken Accutane off the market in roughly 11 other countries. For more information, here's a link to Bloomberg's report and to the Associated Press article.
Cert denied in 9/11 Saudi Liability Case
The Supreme Court yesterday denied certiorari in Burnett v. Al Baraka, in which plaintiffs sought to hold Saudi Arabia and the Saudi royal family liable for the September 11 terrorist attacks. The plaintiffs sought to establish liability by linking the Saudis to the financing of Al Qaeda. The Second Circuit held that the claims were barred by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, reasoning that terrorism claims against a foreign government required a state department designation of that government as a supporter of terrorism.
Here's an excerpt from today's article in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
In a decision that creates broad immunity for Saudi Arabia in terrorism lawsuits, the Supreme Court yesterday let stand lower-court rulings that the desert kingdom and senior members of the Saudi royal family are not liable for the 9/11 attacks. ...
For the moment, the decision leaves untouched litigation against scores of Islamic charities, alleged terrorism financiers and financial institutions named as defendants in the case. But the Supreme Court's decision is a significant defeat for the 6,000 individual victims and family members along with insurers and other commercial interests seeking compensation. ...
The plaintiffs allege that Saudi Arabia funded and controlled Islamic charities that were used to launder money into al-Qaeda. Absent that financial support, al-Qaeda never would have become a global terrorist threat and never would have been able to pull off the Sept. 11 attacks, they allege.
The Obama administration, concerned about the case's effect on U.S.-Saudi relations, weighed in with an amicus brief last month urging the Supreme Court to decline the case.
June 29, 2009
Supreme Court Reaffirms Availability of Damages for Fear of Future Illness in Asbestos Cases
In CSX Transportation, Inc. v. Thurston Hensley, the Supreme Court addressed the question of whether a former railroad worker who contracted astestosis after long-term exposure to asbestos on the job could recover damages for pain and suffering under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) based on his fear of developing lung cancer in the future. In its June 1 decision, the Court, per curiam, reaffirmed a prior requirement that such damages are available but are limited to plaintiffs who can prove that their fear of cancer is both genuine and serious; the Court thus found that the lower court erred by not utilizing a jury instruction embodying this standard. The full text of the opinion can be found here.