Product liability cases in the U.S. federal court system reached an eight-year high last year, maintaining an upward trend that started in 2015, according to a new litigation report by Lex Machina.
The report found that Johnson & Johnson faced 70,924 product liability lawsuits in the five-year period since 2015, the most of any company. Most of those complaints were consolidated in multidistrict litigation over its talc-based baby powder and its blood-thinning drug Xarelto, according to Law.com.
The total number of product liability cases rocketed more than 20% from 2018 to 2019, with 56,041 cases filed last year – up from 43,567 in 2081.
Even when excluding cases multidistrict filings, which account for a large share of product liability lawsuits, there were 5,261 cases filed in 2019, the highest number over the 10-year period covered by the report and well above the 10-year average.
Excluding MDL cases, the most active defendants from 2015-2019 were Johnson & Johnson with 1,429 cases, followed by Abbot Laboratories with 1,197 and Ford with 973. The report shows that pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers faced the largest number of lawsuits.
Other top defendants in product liability disputes include Bayer AG and its various units, including Monsanto, the maker of Roundup herbicide; Volkswagen Group of America Inc., which is still reeling from its emissions cheat scandal; and Boeing, which is embroiled in costly litigation for its 737 Max crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
Lex Machina’s 2020 Product Liability Litigation Report also shows Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles handling the second-largest volume of product liability lawsuits with 6,470 cases from 2015-2019, just behind Weitz & Luxenberg, which held the top spot with 6,848 lawsuits.
Lawyers in our Personal Injury & Products Liability Section are led by Cole Portis, who is head of this Section; and Greg Allen, our Lead Products Liability Lawyer. Product liability lawsuits involving dangerous drugs and medical devices are handled by our Mass Torts Section, headed by Andy Birchfield and directed by Melissa Prickett; cases involving environmental or toxic exposure claims, like those involving Roundup, are handled by our Toxic Torts Section, headed by Rhon Jones; and cases involving economic losses related to product liability like the VW emissions cheat are handled by our Consumer Fraud Section, headed by Dee Miles.
Additional source: Law 360