Counsel Financial has named its Top Five Mass Torts of 2020, and Beasley Allen lawyers are actively involved in four of them. As previously reported, our firm has been actively involved in Mass Torts Litigation for a very long time. The first major case involving mass torts handled by Beasley Allen involved the pain killer Vioxx. Beasley Allen also handles mass torts involving chemical exposure or chemical poisoning in our Toxic Torts Section, and two of those made the list this year. The litigations, listed by Counsel Financial, in no particular order, are:
Water Litigation – PFAS Contamination
Our Toxic Torts Section is handling water litigation cases on behalf of state and municipal governments affected by PFAS. The most commonly found PFAS are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). PFAS are commonly called “forever chemicals” because they are extremely stable and do not break down once released into the environment. PFAS also tend to remain in human tissue permanently.
Exposure to the chemicals over time, even in trace amounts, can lead to serious health problems. These may include developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants, including low birth weight, accelerated puberty, and skeletal variations; cancer, including testicular, kidney, and pancreatic cancer; liver damage; adverse immune effects, such as antibody production and weakened immunity; and thyroid problems, to name a few.
PFAS water contamination is likely the most widespread form of exposure. People can also be exposed to PFAS in other ways, such as inhaling dust in spaces with carpets, textiles, and other consumer products treated with PFAS to resist stains; surface water in lakes and ponds; consuming fish from contaminated bodies of water; and various contaminated foods and food packaging.
Beasley Allen has been a leader in the JUUL vaping litigation from the onset. Our firm was among the first to file JUUL lawsuits for claims of injuries and addiction related to the vaping devices, and we joined a coalition of six firms nationwide representing school districts negatively affected by JUUL addiction among students.
JUUL created a new generation of nicotine addicts through shrewd and aggressive social media campaigns, a clever and easily disguisable product design, and other business strategies that targeted U.S. teens and children.
The impact JUUL has had on U.S. public health is staggering. Recent studies have found that vaping among high school students doubled between 2017 and 2018 – the highest increase in smoking, drinking, and drug use ever recorded in the U.S. The surge in vaping among U.S. middle and high school students correlates directly with JUUL’s appearance on the market and its savvy youth-oriented marketing campaigns.
Joseph VanZandt, a lawyer in our Mass Torts Section, serves on the Plaintiff Steering Committee (PSC) in the federal JUUL multidistrict litigation (MDL), where more than 1,200 cases are pending against 83 Defendants. Beasley Allen lawyer Beau Darley serves on the PSC in the California state court consolidated litigation, where there are 66 government entity cases (including 64 school districts) and 204 personal injury cases brought on behalf of more than 2,400 individual personal injury Plaintiffs.
Zantac Cancer Lawsuits
Beasley Allen lawyers in our Mass Torts Section are currently investigating claims of Zantac users who developed cancer. Zantac was voluntarily recalled from the market on Sept. 13, 2019, and withdrawn in April. The popular over-the-counter antacid and heartburn relief medicine has been linked to certain types of cancer, including liver, bladder, stomach, colon, kidney and pancreatic cancer.
On April 2, 2020, all prescription and over-the-counter versions of ranitidine, the active ingredient in the heartburn and acid reflux medicine Zantac, as well as generics, were withdrawn from the market because they were contaminated with a probable human carcinogen called N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
FDA testing, confirmed by third-party laboratories, confirmed NDMA was present in ranitidine, and that the levels of NDMA increase even under normal storage conditions, and could increase significantly when stored at higher temperatures. Furthermore, the older a ranitidine product is, or the longer it sat in store shelves or a consumer’s medicine cabinet, the greater the level of NDMA. These conditions could cause the levels of NDMA in ranitidine to rise above the acceptable daily intake limit.
Frank Woodson, who is heading up our firm’s new Mobile office, is leading the Zantac cancer litigation and has been appointed to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) for the national multidistrict litigation regarding Zantac.
Lawyers in our Toxic Torts section also are handling cases involving Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world and the second-most used weed killer for home and garden, government and industry, and commerce. It was introduced commercially by Monsanto Company in 1974 and is used by landscapers, farmers, groundskeepers, commercial gardeners and even home gardeners.
Roundup has been linked to a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma, connected to the chemical glyphosate in the weed killer. Litigation continues against Monsanto and Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2016.
Bayer said it would settle lawsuits in the Roundup litigation in June but was accused in August by Plaintiffs attorneys of reneging on its agreement. In September, Bayer said it had settled another 15,000 Roundup lawsuits, adding to 32,000 it previously disclosed it had settled. The company faces an estimated 125,000 Roundup cases.
Rhon Jones and John Tomlinson are leading this litigation for our firm. They were skeptical of the settlement referred to above from the start and continue to fight to fairly resolve cases for Beasley Allen clients.
There is one Mass Tort on the list that Beasley Allen is not currently involved in, related to the social media app TikTok. It is estimated that 1.3 billion people worldwide have downloaded the app, with 120 million users in the United States. TikTok is facing lawsuits related to privacy issues. Litigation accuses the app’s operators, including its China-based parent company, ByteDance Inc., of gathering and storing users’ private data. It will be most interesting to see how this litigation proceeds.
Beasley Allen Can Help
To contact the Beasley Allen lawyers working on Water Litigation, JUUL Lawsuits, Zantac Cancer Lawsuits or the Roundup Lawsuit, call the firm at 800-898-2034 or fill out the contact form on our website. For PFAS contact Rhon Jones, Rick Stratton or Ryan Kral; for JUUL vaping litigation, contact Joseph VanZandt, Sydney Everett or Melissa Prickett; for Zantac cancer claims, contact Frank Woodson; and for Roundup cancer claims contact Rhon Jones.
You can also reach out to the Directors for each of the Beasley Allen sections: Melissa Pricket, Principal and Director for Mass Torts and Tracie Harrison, Director for Toxic Torts. They will be able to put you in touch with a lawyer, who will be glad to talk to you about your claim.
This story appears in the January 2021 issue of The Jere Beasley Report. For more like this, visit the Report online and subscribe.