Nissan Increases Altima Recall To 640,000

The Chicago (IL) Tribune (3/9, Undercoffler, 2.42M) reported that Nissan has increased the number of 2013 Altimas involved in last year’s October recall from 220,000 to 625,000 in the US and 15,000 in Canada due to “a flaw that can cause the hood to fly open while the car is being driven.” The Tribune reported that Nissan does not currently have a fix to the issue but will attempt to mitigate the defect with a plan to “inspect and lubricate the potentially defective secondary latches free of charge at dealerships and will be notifying owners of affected vehicles.” Nissan is not yet aware of any injuries or accidents related to the defect.


Jury Finds For Plaintiff In J&J Mesh Lawsuit

Bloomberg News (3/5, 2.94M) reported that a jury in California ordered Johnson & Johnson on Thursday “to pay $5.7 million to a woman who said one of the company’s Abbrevo vaginal-mesh implants eroded inside her, forcing her to have surgery, in the first verdict over that device.” In the first verdict “to find fault with the Abbrevo sling,” jurors determined that the product “was defectively designed and officials of J&J’s Ethicon unit failed to properly warn doctors and consumers about the device’s risks.”


Transvaginal Mesh Litigation

Major activity is underway in the seven transvaginal mesh multidistrict litigations in the Southern District of West Virginia. While American Medical Systems (AMS) continues to settle claims involving its mesh products, C.R. Bard, Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, and Cook Medical are gearing up for more bellwether trials this year. Here are some of the highlights:

C.R. Bard

Early last year Judge Goodwin selected 200 cases (Wave I and 2) for case specific discovery to include depositions of the Plaintiffs as well as treating physicians. In an effort to spur continued progression in these cases given the large number of pending claims, the Court later designated approximately 300 more cases (Wave 3) for discovery on cases involving only the Bard Avaulta mesh product used for pelvic organ prolapse repair.

Believing that it would be impossible to actually depose every treating physician responsible for the care and treatment of 300 Plaintiffs, the Court determined that depositions by written question would be the most efficient means of handling the deposition process; however, the process quickly became cumbersome and problematic for all the parties.

To address these concerns, the Court designated a Miniwave process, which reduced the number of Plaintiffs in the wave to 60. Once discovery is completed on these cases, they will be deemed trial ready, and will be either transferred to a federal district court of proper venue, or in the alternative, remanded to the federal district court from which the case was transferred to the MDL, if applicable.

Despite this movement, Bard continues to seek to delay trials and has even argued that trials should be delayed because comments by U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin served to prejudge Bard’s liability in these cases. Judge Goodwin rejected its argument and ruled that Bard had not demonstrated good cause to further delay trials. The next trial against Bard is scheduled to begin February 18.

Boston Scientific

Early 2014 resulted in the selection of approximately 200 cases (Wave 1 and 2) for case specific discovery. This litigation is currently in the Daubert motion phase and these cases will be deemed trial ready early this year. In September 2014, Boston Scientific lost its first trial in Texas state court when a jury awarded a $73.4 million verdict to a Plaintiff implanted with the company’s Obtryx midurethral sling. The jury found that there was a safer alternative design available than the Obtryx device and that it was unreasonably dangerous as marketed. The jury also found that Boston Scientific has acted with gross negligence. Trials against Boston Scientific are currently scheduled for February (Dallas, Texas), May (Delaware), and June 2015 (Texas and Massachusetts).

Johnson & Johnson

Cases against Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon have not been designated for case specific discovery through a wave process like in Bard and Boston Scientific. Instead, the Court chose six bellwether cases for trial designation, the last two of which are scheduled to be tried in March 2015 in West Virginia. These cases involve the Ethicon Prolift product for pelvic prolapse repair. The Prolift vaginal mesh system was associated with many negative side effects, prompting the company to voluntarily recall the product from the market.

Last September, a jury in West Virginia federal court awarded a $3.27 million verdict finding that Ethicon’s transvaginal sling was defectively designed. Prior to that, a jury in Texas state court found for the plaintiff and awarded a $1.2 million verdict. In addition to the federal trial in March, more trials are expected against Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon in state courts this year, with one scheduled for February 2015 in Austin, Texas and another scheduled for April in Dallas, Texas.

Cook Medical

Recently, the MDL court ordered four cases against Cook Medical to be tried as bellwether cases, with the first case to be ready to try on April 20, 2015. If that case is dismissed or otherwise not ready for trial, a back-up case will be tried in its place. The next trial is set for May 18, 2015, and if that case is dismissed or otherwise not ready for trial, another back-up case will take its place. The final trial date will be June 8, 2015.


NHTSA Data Shows That Vehicle Recalls More Than Doubled In 2014

According to The Detroit Bureau (2/14, Strong) automobile recalls in the US in 2014 surpassed recalls in 2013 by “more than 100%,” with 63.95 million vehicles having been recalled, according to NHTSA. General Motors accounted for most of the recalls at 27 million vehicles recalled in 84 different events. The article partially focused on NHTSA resources to handle recalls and monitor automobile safety nationwide, noting that NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind wants more funding for investigating possible vehicle issues, warning that more vehicles could be recalled this year than in 2014. Secretary Foxx agrees, having stated for the press earlier this week that “It’s no longer reasonable frankly to expect an office with 8 screeners and 16 defects investigators to adequately analyze 75,000 complaints a year.”
The International Business Times (2/14, Young, 1.19M), video from CNBC (2/14, 2.81M), and Law 360 (2/13, Field, 9K) also report with similar coverage.


Chrysler To Be Sued Over Jeep Fuel Tanks

The AP (2/11) reported that a lawyer for the family of Kayla White, who burned to death after her Jeep Liberty was hit from behind last November, intends to sue Chrysler over its recall of certain fuel tanks. Many older Jeep models have “plastic fuel tanks mounted behind the rear axle,” which makes them vulnerable “to punctures and fires” during rear-end collisions. Chrysler announced a recall in June 2013, but attorney Gerald Thurswell contends that “the recall notice from Chrysler gives no sense” of the actual danger.


20% Of Cars Have An Unfixed Recall

The Arizona Republic (2/11, Merrill, 1.14M) reported that according to the Neighborhood Auto Repair Professionals in Arizona, “one in five cars nationwide has an unfixed recall,” and “one in three minivans and one in five SUVs” have unfixed recalls. The repair group used research from Carfax to estimate that 46 million cars have unfixed recalls in the US.


Johnson & Johnson Has Abandoned Its Solicitation Probe In Transvaginal Mesh Cases

Reuters (2/11) is reporting that Johnson & Johnson has given up its request for a probe into what it claimed were illegal phone calls made to women about their use of transvaginal mesh devices made by its Ethicon subsidiary. The devices are the center of a multidistrict litigation in West Virginia by thousands of women who were injured by the transvaginal mesh.


GM To Temporarily Stop Selling Some SUVs Due To Pending Goodyear Tire Recall

The Detroit Free Press (1/22, Priddle, 987K) reported that General Motors told dealers to stop selling 2015 Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave utility vehicles due to a pending recall of the 18-inch tires on the 6,300. The article states that Goodyear is working with the NHTSA and expects recall 48,500 tires, “of which about 32,100 were made for GM’s family of full-size crossovers.”


Kia Motors Recalls Forte Sedans Due To Fire Risk

According to Reuters (1/25, Beech) Kia Motors announced the recall of 86,880 Forte sedans across the US because of problems with the cooling fan resistor, which can overheat and possibly melt, raising the chances of a fire, according to NHTSA. Owners of affected vehicles can go to their dealers for replacement parts.
The AP (1/25) reported that the recall “affects Kia Fortes made from Dec. 5, 2012, through April 17, 2014.”


Medtronic Will Pay $2.8 Million To Settle Allegations Of Encouraging Off-Label Use Of Device To Doctors

Law 360 (2/6, Macagnone, 9K) is reporting that Medtronic will settle with the US Justice Department for $2.8 million regarding a False Claims Act Suit contending the company “paid doctors to push an unapproved use” of the company’s neuro-stimulation device, “SubQ stimulation treatment.” The Justice Department has accused Medtronic of paying out “tens of thousands of dollars” to urge physicians to make an off-label use of the device, and to seek Medicare payments for treatments “not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”