January 31, 2007
France Postpones Action on Class Actions
The French National Assembly has cancelled plans for a parliamentary debate on whether to adopt a limited consumer class action mechanism for the French legal system. The proposal that was to be considered would allow suit to be brought only by a national consumer association for products or services with a value less than approximately $2500 and would have excluded health-related issues. The proposal appears unlikely to come up again before the national presidential and legislative elections later this year. It will then be up to the next government to decide whether to revive the proposal. See the Associated Press story.
January 28, 2007
Henderson and Twerski Named Special Masters in 9-11 Lawsuits
According to an article in CHRONICLE ONLINE from Cornell University, Professor James Henderson of Cornell Law School and Dean Aaron Twerski of Hofstra University School of Law, who were co-reporters for the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Products Liability (1998), have been appointed special masters by Judge Allen Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York to assist in the processing of post-911 lawsuits against New York City.
January 27, 2007
Foreseeability of Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure in Dispute
An Illinois man has brought suit against approximately 134 defendants alleging that he was exposed to the asbestos brought home in the 1950s and 60s on his father's work clothes. The key issue in the case is whether the father's employer had a duty to protect the defendant from asbestos exposure outside the employer's workplace. Whether the employer owes a duty to protect persons outside the workplace from asbestos exposure is an issue that has been previously decided in other jurisdictions. The New Jersey Supreme Court decided that such a duty did extend to a wife who washed her employee-husband's work clothes. In a factually similar case, the New York Court of Appeals decided that there was no such duty. Appellate courts in Georgia and Louisiana have found such a duty in recent cases. The outcome in the Illinois case, Yanchick v. Rapid American Corp., is therefore uncertain. See Jesse Ammerman's article for LegalNewsline.com.
January 26, 2007
Federal court refuses class certification in paxil case
In Blain v. Smithkline Beechan Corp., 2007 WL 178564, (E.D.Pa.) the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Thursday declined to certify as a national class the plaintiffs lawsuit against the manufacturer of the andipressant drug Paxil. The plaintiffs in the case sought to reprsent "all persons whose children under age eighteen committed or attempted to commit suicide while using the drug." The essence of their claim is that the defendat had specifi knowledge of Paxil's association with the incresed risk of sucidality in pediatric patients but failed to warn physicians, the medical community, and the public of that danger. The plaintiffs sought a class trial on whether Paxil could cause suicidality in pediatric patients, whether the defendant knew or should have know that it could, and whether the defendant failed to provide adequate warnings of the danger. The court held that a class action is not an appropriate vehicle for litigation of the issues in the case:
"A class action is not an appropriate vehicle for litigating the issues in this case. The plaintiffs fail to meet the typicality and adequacy prongs of Rule 23(a). Typicality is wanting because the individual circumstances of the named plaintiffs are markedly different from those of the putative class members and GSK can raise unique defenses to almost each class member's claim. These same differences result in interests so divergent that the named plaintiffs are inadequate representatives of the absent class members. Finally, the predominance and superiority requirements of Rule 23(b)(3) are lacking--predominance because the proposed common issues are overwhelmed by the differences among the factual and legal issues affecting individual causation, damages and defenses; and, superiority because the proposed class would be unmanageable in light of the choice-of-law conflicts that are resolved in favor of each individual's home state. In essence, the plaintiffs have failed to define a class capable of ascertaining membership without individualized fact-finding."
January 18, 2007
Consumer Reports Withdraws Car Seat Study
Consumer Reports, the consumer product testing magazine, has withdrawn its recent study of infant's car seats. That study, which generated a considerable amount of news, alleged that several such seats failed crash tests using tougher safety tests than those used by the federal government. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which performs the government's testing raised questions about whether the Consumer Reports tests accurately simulated the conditions they were supposed to. NHTSA claims that the Consumer Reports testing procedures contained significant errors that actually simulated much higher side-impact speeds (70 mph) than the 38.5 mph speed claimed by Consumer Reports. See Christian Zappone's report for CNNMoney.
January 15, 2007
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
January 9, 2007
Most Infant Car Seats Fail New Safety Tests
Infant car seats subjected to the same front- and side-impact speed tests as used for new cars, "failed disasterously" according to Consumer Reports who conducted the tests. Many of the seats either twisted violently or flew off their bases during the tests.
January 8, 2007
Eli Lilly Settles 18,000 Zyprexa Suits
Eli Lilly & Co. settled 18,000 suits by people who had claimed that their use of Zyprexa, the top-selling antipsychotic drug, had caused diabetes and other side effects. The 18,000 settlements are "not expected to exceed $500 million" according to Lilly. The company still faces approximately 1200 individual suits as well as four state lawsuits collectively seeking hundreds of millions of dollars. See the story by Joe Schneider and Margaret Cronin Frisk for Bloomberg.com.