Recent Product Liability Lawsuits: Big Verdicts and Settlements

Oct 3, 2018 | Product Liability

Defective drugs, medical devices and household products injure thousands of Americans every year. Many assume that if a product is on the market, it’s undergone rigorous testing by the government, but that’s not always the case.

As we noted in an article a few weeks ago, efforts by the Food and Drug Administration to make it easier for companies to introduce new products may be jeopardizing patient safety; demands to cut through the red tape of regulatory review have led to consumers being exposed to pricey drugs of dubious efficacy, with potentially serious (or simply unknown) side effects, as well as implanted medical devices with a high rate of defects or failure.

When the regulatory process fails to protect the public, courts of law offer possible relief to those harmed by that lapse. Some recent product liability lawsuits have been attracting considerable comment, both because of the sheer scope of the often-complex litigation and the staggering jury verdicts or hard-fought settlements they have produced. Among those that have attracted headlines in recent months:

Roundup Lawsuit 2018. A San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a former school groundskeeper who blamed his frequent use of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed under the trade name Roundup, and similar products for giving him non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes and the immune system. Monsanto, recently acquired by Bayer, has strongly denied that its product played any role in the plaintiff’s cancer and has vowed to appeal the verdict. The case is the first of thousands of lawsuits to go to trial against Monsanto, alleging that the company failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks of glyphosate.

Talcum Powder Lawsuits. A string of cases have alleged that popular talc products, including Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder, have caused ovarian cancer. The dispute has grown more heated as plaintiffs attorneys have questioned whether many talc products are contaminated with asbestos, as the two often occur naturally in close proximity to each other. After a New Jersey jury awarded $117 million to a man who claimed to have contracted mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused primarily by exposure to asbestos, from using Johnson & Johnson talc for 30 years, other large plaintiff verdicts followed —including a whopping $4.69 billion verdict from a Missouri jury, in favor of 22 women who claimed that the J&J powder contained asbestos and led to their ovarian cancer. Six of the plaintiffs are now deceased; Johnson & Johnson has indicated the company will appeal the judgment.

Opioids Lawsuits. Dozens of state and local government agencies, from New York City to the Cherokee Nation to the State of Colorado have filed lawsuits against major pharmaceutical companies, seeking damages for the costs of battling the opioid epidemic. Although the lawsuits vary in their specific claims, they all seek to hold Big Pharma responsible for a large share of the crisis. Many of the cases are still in the early stages, but a history of multi-million-dollar settlements of related claims suggests more could be coming. In 2015 Purdue Pharma settled a lawsuit brought by Kentucky officials over OxyContin use for $24 million while admitting no wrongdoing, and last year McKesson paid $150 million in fines after the Justice Department accused the company of failing to report “suspicious orders” of narcotics that helped to fuel the painkiller black market.

Hip Replacement Lawsuit. DePuy, a company that is part of Johnson & Johnson’s medical devices group, has faced litigation from thousands of patients over certain artificial hip implants, including 9000 cases filed in multi-district litigation in the Northern District of Texas. A federal judge there recently entered a $245 million judgment on behalf of six Pinnacle patients who had to have their implants surgically removed; two previous trials resulted in jury verdicts of $502 million (since overturned by an appeals court, which ordered a new trial) and $1.04 billion (later reduced to $150 million).


If you have suffered injuries from a dangerous drug or the failure of a defective medical device, you may be entitled to compensation. The product liability attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates can help answer your questions concerning several devices associated with recalls, adverse events, or possibly inadequate warnings issued to doctors and patients, including talcum powder injuries, Attune Knee Systems, St. Jude Defibrillators, and the blood thinners Xarelto, Eliquis and Pradaxa. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.