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Product liability lawsuits rise

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2020 | Product Liability

Defective product lawsuits help provide compensation for injured consumers and deter substandard product design and manufacture. The filing of these product liability lawsuits continued to rise in federal courts across this country in 2019, according to a recent report.

The total number of these cases rose to 56,041 last year compared to 43,567 in 2018, according to Lex Machina’s 2020 product liability litigation report. In multidistrict cases, which make up a substantial share of these lawsuits, there were 5,261 filings in 2019 which was an increase from the 4,943 filed in 2018. The number of multidistrict filings last year was the highest since the report’s 2010 starting data point.

The largest number of liability lawsuits was filed against pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. There were 2,011 lawsuits in 2019 against these manufacturers which was a slight decline from 2018 but greatly above the average since 2010.

Johnson & Johnson faced the highest number of liability lawsuits with 70,924 filed from 2015 to 2019. Many of these were multidistrict litigation involving Xarelto, its baby powder and blood thinner. J&J’s Jansen subsidiaries and assorted divisions of Bayer AG, which owns Monsanto, were also subjected to thousands of lawsuits over its Roundtop herbicide.

Outside pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, Volkswagen Group of America Inc. and The Boeing Co. had the highest number of lawsuits. Vehicle and aircraft lawsuits continue to rise with dozens of cases filed over the crash of its Max 8 aircraft in 2018 and 2019.

In 2019, asbestos cases also rose for the first time since 2013. Researchers are watching the Northern District of Florida because it is the center of the rising number of multidistrict claims involving 3M earplugs used in combat.

According to the report, 92 percent of liability claims were resolved through a procedural order, mostly transferring the case to multidistrict litigation. Excluding multidistrict litigation, 28 percent ended in procedural rulings which included orders sending the case back to a lower court. Settlements concluded 66 percent of cases.

Total damages of $132 million in 2019, which was the lowest since 2013. Total damages awards were over $913 million in 2016 and $1 billion in 2017 where jury verdicts against DePuy Orthopedics over its pinnacle hip plants were significant.

An attorney can help gather evidence concerning defective products. They can also help assure that your claim is vigorously pursued in legal proceedings.