June 9, 2008
New European Commission Product Safety Report
An EU press release notes that on June 5, 2008, European Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva presented a report by independent experts entitled "Evaluating Business Safety Measures in the Toy Supply Chain." The expert report is the culmination of a five-month analysis of product safety measures in the toy-supply chain. The report concluded that significant progress has been made by Chinese manufacturers and authorities in addressing safety concerns. One of the key conclusions in the report is that small European importers and small Chinese manufacturers "tend to be the weak link in the product safety chain." The report makes a series of practical recommendations to strength supply chain safety controls.
June 7, 2008
$6.2 Verdict Against Taser International
An article by Margaret Cronin Fisk in Bloomberg.Com notes that on Friday the plaintiffs in Heston v. City of Salinas, C 05-03658 JW (N.D. Cal. 2008), were awarded damages in a jury trial against Taser International Inc. in the amount of $6.2 million for the death of a man who died after being shot multiple times with a Taser weapon. The jury awarded $1 million in compoensatory damages and $5.2 million in punitive damages to Robert Heston's estate and his parents. The police officers in the case were not found liable. The case is Taser's first loss in a products liability case.
June 4, 2008
New Jersey Supreme Court Holds Medical Monitoring Costs Unavailable in Products Liability Absent Manifest Injury
In Sinclair v. Merck & Co., decided June 4, the New Jersey Supreme Court held the New Jersey Products Liability Act does not permit the recovery of costs for medical monitoring where no manifest injury is alleged. The plaintiffs' amended class action complaint defined the class as consisting of persons who had ingested Vioxx for at least six consecutive weeks, but who had not sought recovery of damages for personal injuries caused by Vioxx.
June 3, 2008
Court of Civil Appeals of Texas Reverses Vioxx Case Judgment Against Merck & Co.
On May 29, the Court of Civil Appeals of Texas overturned a plaintiff's judgment in Merck & Co. v. Ernst, a Vioxx case tried in Brazoria County. The decedent's estate filed suit against Merck alleging that the decedent's ingestion of Vioxx caused a myocardial infarction triggered by a blood clot. The jury verdict awarded compensatory damages of $24,450,000 and exemplary damages in the amount of $229,000,000. The trial court reduced the exemplary damages and entered judgment for the estate in the amount of $26,100,000. Merck argued on appeal that the evidence on causation was insufficient. The court of appeals agreed and reversed:
The epidemiological evidence supports the conclusion that Vioxx use at a certain dose and duration is associated with an increased risk of thrombotic cardiovascular events. The experts' speculation that a clot “could have” existed, but “could have” dissolved, been dislodged, or fragmented gives rise to nothing more than conjecture. Crediting all favorable evidence that reasonable jurors could believe and disregarding all contrary evidence except that which they could not ignore, we find no evidence that Ernst suffered a thrombotic cardiovascular event, i.e., a myocardial infarction triggered by a blood clot.