(Reuters) – A federal judicial panel on Friday granted motions to consolidate pretrial proceedings for greater than 110 federal lawsuits in opposition to CPAP-maker Philips, and for no less than 16 actions over Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena- and Aveeno-brand aerosol sunscreens.
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation thought-about each motions at its Sept. 30 convention, together with Geico’s movement for MDL remedy of 5 class actions stemming from a weeks-long knowledge safety breach the corporate revealed in April. The panel denied Geico’s movement on Oct. 4.
MDL No. 3014 – In Re: Philips Recalled CPAP, Bi−Stage PAP, and Mechanical Ventilator Merchandise Legal responsibility Litigation
The JPML selected Senior U.S. District Decide Pleasure Flowers Conti in Pittsburgh to deal with shopper class-action claims over the dangers posed by the sound-abatement foam utilized in a number of fashions of Philips’ CPAP, Bi-Stage PAP and mechanical ventilators
The panel famous that the recalled units have been “primarily manufactured by Philips RS North America LLC (formerly Philips Respironics)” within the Pittsburgh space, and that the Pittsburgh-based courtroom was acceptable to each Philips and the plaintiff who had requested for the circumstances to be consolidated, Thomas Starner.
On the urging of the events, the panel additionally agreed that the MDL ought to embody personal-injury claims. About 30 of the 114 circumstances filed as of Oct. 8 allege private accidents, and all the actions “raise similar factual questions regarding the recalled devices and the conduct of the recall,” the JPML’s switch order says.
Amsterdam-based Koninkelijke (Royal) Philips voluntarily recalled the units in June, two months after it publicly warned of “possible risks to users related to the sound abatement foam” in a protracted record of “first-generation” sleep-apnea and respiration aids. The corporate had launched its “second generation” fashions lower than two weeks earlier than the April announcement.
Philips stated it had decided that the polyester-based polyurethane foam in 11 fashions manufactured earlier than April 2021 may degrade beneath sure circumstances, releasing poisonous fumes and small particles that could be inhaled by means of the units. The corporate estimated that 3 million to 4 million machines are in use, with about half in america.
The U.S. Meals and Drug Administration deemed it a Class I recall primarily based on the potential for “serious injury or death,” and accepted Philips’ plan to restore current models by changing the froth with a extra secure various.
As a result of lack of prepared alternative kits, although, the recall will final till September 2022. In the meantime, Philips has not supplied “loaners,” and Medicare and most insurers is not going to pay for a brand new unit – estimated at $500 to $1,000 retail – until the prior one was no less than 5 years previous.
In its recall discover, Philips stated it’s “treating this matter with the highest possible seriousness, and are working to address this issue as efficiently and thoroughly as possible.”
The patron class actions typically search precise damages for negligence, product legal responsibility, failure to warn, and breach of warranties; precise and statutory damages for unfair enterprise practices and consumer-law violations; precise and punitive damages for fraud; and injunctive reduction, together with medical monitoring.
For Philips et al.: John Lavelle Jr. of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
For movant Thomas Starner: Sandra Duggan of Levin Sedran & Berman
MDL No. 3015 – IN RE: Johnson & Johnson Sunscreen Advertising and marketing, Gross sales Practices and Merchandise Legal responsibility Litigation
The panel on Friday assigned the litigation over the presence of benzene in some Johnson & Johnson sunscreen merchandise, and J&J’s recall of these merchandise, to U.S. District Decide Anuraag Singhal in Fort Lauderdale.
Singhal is already dealing with one of many pending circumstances in opposition to J&J, however this can be his first MDL.
J&J voluntarily recalled 4 Neutrogena aerosol sunscreen manufacturers and one from Aveeno on July 14, after discovering small quantities of benzene, a carcinogen, in samples it had examined after an unbiased lab, Valisure, reported discovering the carcinogen in lots of sunscreen merchandise in Could. J&J stated the degrees it detected have been too low to pose a well being threat, however “out of an abundance of caution” pulled all a lot of the merchandise and supplied refunds.
Whereas some litigation had adopted the Valisure report, the recall has to this point prompted 16 further actions on behalf of nationwide shopper lessons and state-wide subclasses estimated to comprise “tens of thousands” of purchasers.
The panel additionally modified the title of the proposed MDL, deleting the phrase “aerosol.” Primarily based on the Valisure report, some plaintiffs allege that benzene was additionally detected in J&J sunscreen lotions and that the corporate ought to have recalled these as properly, the switch order stated.
Only one motion – a “tag-along” case filed after the JPML obtained the movement to consolidate on July 29 – consists of claims for private harm. The panel discovered “some merit” in excluding private harm claims from the buyer class actions, however stated it needn’t determine simply but as a result of, as a procedural matter, tag-along actions are thought-about individually.
For J&J: Steven Zalesin, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler
For Melissa Jimenez: Jonathan Shub of Shub Legislation Agency; Gary Klinger of Mason Lietz & Klinger