New Jersey State Court Revives 1000 Talcum Powder Cases

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was stung by an August 2020 New Jersey court ruling that will likely lead to the reinstatement of over 1000 talcum powder cases that had previously been dismissed. The New Jersey Superior Court ruled that Atlantic County Judge Nelson Johnson incorrectly threw out testimony from plaintiffs’ experts Graham Colditz and Daniel Cramer that supports claims brought by two women that talcum powder in J&J’s iconic Baby Powder caused their ovarian cancer. The ruling asserted that the trial judge was wrong to exclude the testimony and should have instead scrutinized the methodologies behind their conclusion that talc can cause ovarian cancer since deciding credibility is a jury issue—not an issue for the judge to decide. The ruling clears the two cases for trial and will likely lead to the revival of 1000 talcum powder cases in J&J’s home state.

What Could This Mean for the Talcum Powder Litigation?

Although the ruling only directly affects two lawsuits, it will also likely impact the 1000 other state talcum powder cases on hold before the same judge. Ted Meadows, one of the lawyers representing women bringing talcum powder lawsuits said that “there are approximately 1000 ovarian cancer cases currently filed in New Jersey state court, with more to come. This ruling paves the way for those cases to proceed to trial.”

The ruling is bad news for J&J, which is headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, because the company had previously tried to transfer the majority of the talcum powder litigation to the Multi-District Litigation in the District Court of New Jersey. However, the August 2020 ruling and the February 2020 New Jersey jury verdict of $750 million awarded to four plaintiffs claiming their mesothelioma was linked to use of the company’s talcum powder may quell that notion for J&J.

Johnson & Johnson’s Response

J&J’s spokeswoman Kim Montagnino commented on the ruling: “We respect the court’s decision and are fully prepared to defend the safety of our product in court. We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos free, and does not cause cancer.”

Additional Information on the Talcum Powder Litigation

Johnson & Johnson voluntarily discontinued sales of its talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada in May 2020. According to J&J’s securities filings, within the past eight months the number of cases alleging that the product causes cancer has increased by 15% and the company now faces more than 20,000 talc lawsuits. Some of those lawsuits claim that the talc itself causes cancer while others claim that the alleged asbestos contamination in the talc causes cancer.

Imerys Talc America—a unit of Paris-based Imerys SA—that mined talc used in J&J’s Baby Powder was also named a defendant in many of the talcum powder lawsuits. However, the company sought bankruptcy protection from creditors last year and offered to settle more than 14,000 talc lawsuits by selling itself and other Imerys units as part of their bankruptcy agreement and put the corresponding proceeds into a trust for the plaintiffs.

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help You

When it comes to handling a talcum powder and ovarian cancer lawsuit, our team is more than qualified to take on the case. GoldenbergLaw has had years of experience with drug-related cases and has had a great amount of success throughout those years. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with talcum powder or mesothelioma after using talcum powder, contact us and get a free consultation.

The Dangers of Table Saws

What are Common Table Saw Injuries?

Unfortunately, table saws cause thousands of operator injuries each year, in spite of the fact that there are often better, safer designs that could prevent such injuries. Of the 79,500-hospital emergency department-treated injuries resulting from table saws in the U.S. from 2007-2008, the operator of the saw was the victim in 95.7% (76,100) of the cases. The most common types of injuries to operators were lacerations (64.8%), fractures (12.2%), and amputations (10.5%). Fingers (89.1%) followed by hands (6.8%) were the body parts most frequently harmed. Many of these injuries resulted in tendon, nerve, and vascular damage or amputation. Long-term consequences of these injuries can include functional and sensory deficits.

These statistics come from the 2009 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) study of stationary saw-related injuries which occurred between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008 and were treated in a hospital emergency department within the CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).

The 2009 study followed up on the 2001 CPSC’s NEISS study which estimated that 36,400 injuries were associated with stationary saws during the calendar year with 98% of those injured being saw operators. In the 2001 study, lacerations made up the majority of the injuries (68%), followed by amputations (9%), fractures (9%), and avulsions (8%). The majority of the injuries in the 2001 study were damaged fingers—totaling 43,160 cases amounting to 83% of overall injuries. The majority of these injuries were caused by contact with the saw’s blade or being hit by stock or cutting material.

Is There Safety Equipment Available to Prevent Injuries?

While table saws continue to cause serious injuries to operators, there are several types of safety mechanisms that could be incorporated by manufacturers of table saws to better prevent such injuries. One such design is a blade guard.

The primary purposes of blade guards are to prevent wood from falling on a spinning blade resulting in the wood kicking back on the operator and to keep the operator’s fingers safe.

However, these blade guards are often not well incorporated into the saw, allowing for operator removal. Additionally, table saws are often not even equipped with blade guards already installed. In a CPSC “Table Saw Blade Guard Survey” from May 2016, almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) reported that their table saw did not come with the blade guard installed, and that it required installation.

A majority of respondents (80%) reported that there are circumstances that require the blade guard to be removed. Respondents with more experience working with table saws removed the blade guard more often than respondents with less experience.

SawStop: A Device to Reduce Injuries

After witnessing the risks of using table saws, inventor Steven Gass created the SawStop which is a unique blade that carries an electrical current that is continuously monitored. If the saw comes in contact with human skin, a change in current is detected by the blade and an automatic braking system is activated which stops the saw’s blade in about three one-thousandths of a second.

In 2004, after power tool makers repeatedly refused to invest in their safety product, SawStop began making their own brand of saws. It has been suggested that large power tool manufacturing companies do not want a safety device like SawStop to prevail on the market because the availability of such a device could place liability on conventional table saw manufacturers in the event a user becomes injured while using a saw without the added stop technology.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking estimated the average cost of a table saw injury to be around $35,000. Given the tens of thousands of medically treated table saw injuries each year, the total cost per year is estimated to be more than $2 billion.

What are Table Saws Used?

Stationary saws such as the table saw are power tools that do not move due to their size or its type of operation. These saws are commonly bolted onto or mounted on a stand or base. The work is fed into the blade (such as with a table saw or band saw) or the blade is moved onto the work (such as with a radial arm saw or a miter saw) during the operation. These saws may be used in the home, but are also often used in industrial settings, like a workplace.

The U.S. Government’s Response

Since there are about 178 injuries per day (roughly one injury every ten minutes) as a result of working with table saws, in 2017 regulators in Washington, D.C. made an effort to make table saws safer by trying to incorporate an active injury prevention monitoring system for table saws. Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful, and Congress has denied these attempts in the past. At this point it is unclear whether the Consumer Products Safety Commission will pass a rule requiring all new saws to have an active injury prevention monitoring system.

How You Can Make Your Table Saw Safer

  • Keep your saw blade thin and sharp
  • Reduce the chance of table saw kickback with a riving knife that attaches to the saw’s throat plate and keeps the material from coming into contact with the back of the blade
  • Buy an outfeed stand that will help guide a sagging board up and make it level with the saw table
  • Build a better push stick—avoid plastic
  • Build a zero-clearance throat plate to reduce the likelihood of wood kicking back at the operator

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help You

GoldenbergLaw has handled thousands of defective product cases. Our lawyers for household products in Minnesota have years of experience, and we want to help you. To be successful with these types of cases, we need to prove that there is a defect with the product.

If you have suffered a serious injury as a result of a product malfunctioning, catching fire, exploding, or failing to be properly guarded, please follow these important steps:

  1. Get proper treatment for your injuries
  2. Photograph your injuries and all product evidence
  3. Keep all product evidence—even the small pieces
  4. Call GoldenbergLaw for a consultation

 

Car Seat Safety Lawsuit

What are the Lawsuits Claiming?

On June 17, 2020, a California lawsuit was added to the newly-consolidated Massachusetts multidistrict (MDL) case claiming that Evenflo Co. Inc. falsely marketed their car seats as safe for children under 40 pounds. The complaint states that the car seats allegedly placed children in “grave danger” if a crash occurs.

The transferred California lawsuit ended up on the docket of U.S. District Judge Denise J. Casper on the same day that the judge’s order governing the MDL was publicly filed. The proposed class action complaint was first filed in the Eastern District of California in March 2020 after Evenflo claimed for years that its “Big Kid” booster seat has been tested and is safe for children weighing anywhere between 30 to 110 pounds. However, there are no government-approved tests for car seats intended for children weighing under 40 pounds. As a result of the lack of government-approved testing, Evenflo created its own test,gave itself a passing grade, and then marked the booster seat as “side-impact tested.” Evenflo has sold more than 18 million “Big Kid” booster seats and is a subsidiary of China-based Goodbaby International Holdings Ltd.

The complaint says that: “Contrary to Evenflo’s marketing and safety representations, it has recently been revealed that defendant has known for a significant period of time that the booster seat is not safe for children lighter than 40 pounds, and that defendant’s own testing confirmed that a child seated in the booster seat could be in grave danger in the event of a side-impact collision.”

Regarding Evenflo’s alleged misrepresentative marketing practices, the complaint says: “Sadly, the real-world repercussions of defendant’s dangerous deception and misrepresentations have been established by the unforgivable and irreversible aftermath of car accidents involving children weighing less than 40 pounds who were seated in defendant’s booster seat during the time of their accidents.”

One of the leading litigations against Evenflo focuses on a case where a 5-year-old child who weighed under 37 pounds suffered from paralysis after riding in a “Big Kid” booster seat with a backrest during a side-crash. The key issue in the case is whether or not the “Big Kid” booster seat should be used by children between 30 to 40 pounds.

More Information on the Safety Concerns with the “Big Kid” Booster Seats

In February 2020, the nonprofit investigative journalism newsroom, ProPublica, released a report on the sales of Evenflo’s “Big Kid” booster seats which claimed they are potentially unsafe in certain types of crashes.

ProPublica reported that in February 2012 the safety engineer at Evenflo, Eric Dahle,—.—wanted the company to make a major change to its instructions for parents regarding the safety of the booster seats. Dahle recommended that Evenflo stop selling booster seats for children who weigh less than 40 pounds. and cited government research in an email to high-ranking executives to argue that children weighing less than 40 pounds would be safer in car seats that use harnesses to hold their bodies in place. However, internal emails indicate that a marketing executive “vetoed” Dahle’s safety recommendations.

Evenflo’s website tells parents that their booster seats are “safe and side-impacted tested” and that those tests are “rigorous” and simulate realistic side-impact crashes.

However, ProPublica obtained side-impact crash test videos from Evenflo that show child-size dummies buckled into Evenflo “Big Kid” booster seats remaining in the seat but being tossed sideways in a manner that the report says can lead to serious neck and head injuries, or even death.

Evenflo’s top booster seat engineer confirmed these dangers in a deposition, explaining that if real children moved the way the child-sized dummies did, children could suffer catastrophic head, neck and spinal injuries.

Evenflo gave its “Big Kid” booster seats passing grades on the crash tests that were created by the company. In fact, the passing bar for the company’s test is so low that the only way to fail the Evenflo’s crash test is if the child-sized dummy ended up on the floor or the booster itself broke into pieces.

Evenflo responded to ProPublica’s report: “That singular focus is not a luxury that a car seat manufacturer has. After all, our consumers don’t know at the time of purchase what kind of crash they may unfortunately become involved in while their child is in the vehicle. As a responsible car seat manufacturer, consequently, we must design to protect a child in a multitude of reasonably foreseeable accident types. Indeed, the company receives praise from consumers in all kinds of accidents with children of varied sizes, including those under 40 pounds—frontals, near-side-impacts, far-side impacts, rollovers and rear-side impacts.”

Until 2007, Evenflo marked the “Big Kid” booster seat as safe for kids as young as one as long as they weighed 30 pounds or more. However, in 2016, Evenflo did change the minimum height and weight requirements in the owner’s manual to 40 pounds. However, Evenflo did not notify customers who had already purchased “Big Kid” booster seats because the company claimed that there was no safety impact related to the change.

What are Governments’ and Regulators’ Responses?

In February 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives launched a probe to investigate Evenflo over concerns that it used misleading marketing tactics to sell its “Big Kid” booster seat and found that children could be at risk.

However, there are currently not any federal regulations for side-impact crash tests in the United States. In 2000, Congress enacted a law requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to implement regulations to improve the safety of car seats and boosters in order to minimize children’s head injuries in side-impact collisions. However, the law has currently not gone into effect. As a result, car seat manufacturers design their own safety tests and decide the criteria that must be met in order to pass the tests.

In contrast, Canadian regulations require a 40-pound minimum for booster seats. Additionally, for years the Academy of Pediatrics has recommended kids stay in a car seat with harness restraints for as long as possible and should not switch to a booster seat until they weigh at least 40 pounds.

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help You

Our product liability attorneys in Minnesota have 30 years of experience working with many different types of products. Contact our team today and leave the sleepless nights to us. Let us deliver the Gold standard advocacy that you deserve.