Recent RoundUp Trials, Zantac Updates, Ozempic CMC and Emerging Mass Torts – 3/14/24 – Tort Talk Thursday

By Susan Barfield
March 13, 2024

Susan B. (0:00:06) – Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Tort Talk Thursday with Joe Fantini from Rosen Injury Lawyers. Joe, always grateful. Week over week, you providing us with all the updates and insights on what is happening in mass tort. So I know this week we’re going to be talking about Roundup and Zantac and Ozempic and some other emerging mass torts. So why don’t we start with roundup? What is news since we last visited?

Joe F. (0:00:30) – Yeah, thanks again, Susan, for having me. Love talking all things mass torts with you. Last we spoke, there was some unfortunate news for the plaintiffs here in the roundup litigation. We had four trials ongoing. We had the mistrial declared after a jury couldn’t reach a verdict in Delaware. Then we got a defense verdict in an Arkansas case. And then we had a surprise come down here in Philadelphia, where we had some huge verdicts of another defense verdict. And then just last week, a case ongoing in California. During the middle of the trial, a few days in, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed their case. So we have, almost, depending on how you look at it, four wins in a row for Bayer. But kind of two wins and two draws, we’ll call it. But all things aren’t lost in the Roundup litigation. You got to remember, the defendants only try the cases they think they can win. So these all weren’t our strongest cases, but we have another ten cases set to go to trial here in 2024. So I’m confident we’ll get the momentum back in our favor, including an upcoming trial here in Philadelphia, where again, I’m hoping for a really big number. So stay positive on Roundup. I think it’s going to be a good one before the year is out.

Susan B. (0:01:41) – Yeah. Awesome. Tell us, what is new on the Zantac?

Joe F. (0:01:45) – Zantac front: It’s been a little bit quiet. As you remember, back in 2022 in the MDL, the judge ruled and excluded all of the experts under Daubert. And basically what that caused is then people to go to various state courts. There’s a little under 80,000 cases pending in Pennsylvania, California, Delaware, Nevada. And what’s been going on in California is the defendants have been quietly settling cases as they’re coming up on trial. So the first case settled in the summer of 2023. Then we had four more cases settled before the end of 2023. And then so far this year, there’s been three additional cases that settled that were set for trial. This included two settlements reached in February. And what this shows us is the defendants really don’t want these cases going to trial. So they’re working on a trial schedule in the California litigation, but all eyes really are on Delaware. So we had the Daubert expert hearing at the end of January for all of the cases. We’re moving forward. The judge allowed for post argument briefing that just closed on March 7. So we expect a ruling here before the end of April, hoping for some good news. What I am predicting is the judge is going to let some cancers in, some cancers are going to be excluded, and then from there, we’ll have an idea of the population. Also, big developments coming out of Philadelphia, where there’s several hundred cases. The party selected the bellwether cases. There have been eight cases identified, picked on different types of cancers. And in Philadelphia, we have a really cool system for mass torts where they always pick a backup case. So even if the bellwether case settles, there’s always a backup one that’s ready to go, so we don’t run into the same problem we’re seeing in California, where the defendants can settle out a case and avoid trial. So I’m optimistic here about Zantech, which is really a complete 180 from what we felt about a year and a half ago. But we’ll see really what happens in Delaware. And if we get good news, we could be talking about a global settlement before the end of the year.

Susan B. (0:03:55) – That’s awesome. Okay, what about Ozempic?

Joe F. (0:03:58) – Ozempic, the most talked about mass tort of 2024. We have the initial case management conference going on here in eastern District of Pennsylvania before Judge Pratter on March 14. So this is going to be a chance for the judge to kind of get a lay of the land, meet some of the big players on the plaintiff side, meet all the defendants, and then really come up with a strategy on how the cases are going to be handled, if there’s going to be different tracks or different segments for the different defendants and products. But what has everybody really buzzing on the plaintiff sides is we’re hearing there’ll likely be upwards of more than 50,000 cases filed in this MDL here, probably before the end of next year. So expect in the next six months or so, we’ll have a long form complaint and also a short form complaint, and then the filings really pick up. So we got a lot of excitement going on with Ozempic. I think that’s going to be a good one for us.

Susan B. (0:04:49) – That’s great news. And tell us about the emerging torts.

Joe F. (0:04:53) – Yeah, two emerging mass torts that are a little bit under the radar, but I’m hearing a lot about from some of my colleagues. And you are as well. First, we have this human sex trafficking litigation. So if you remember back in 2020, there tried to be a JPML to get consolidation of that litigation that ultimately got denied, which is somewhat rare because usually about 60% to 70% of the motion for consolidation get granted. There were about a dozen lawsuits, and the court found that there wasn’t enough commonality or plaintiffs since that time. In the last three years, there’s been over 1500 plaintiffs that have come forward, and basically they’re asserting claims against these hotel chains like Hilton or Red Roof or best western, that they didn’t have policies and procedures in place to prevent this sex trafficking. At the end of March, there’s going to be a hearing to get these cases consolidated. So I’m feeling optimistic about that. I think this consolidation will go forward just because of the sheer numerosity of the plaintiffs. It makes sense to get this consolidated. So that would be another big one that we’re looking forward to the most under the radar right now. And I’m hearing some talk about is a video game addiction lawsuits. So what’s being alleged here is that individuals who were minors became addicted to video games. So, someone who was under the age of 18, they were playing video games in excess of four or 5 hours a day for weeks on end. And then they developed certain mental health issues or other problems. They could have developed ADHD, they could have become really aggressive, they could have become depressed or anxious. So this is a litigation that’s a little bit similar to what we saw with the social media litigation that’s going on right now in California. But the defendants don’t have those defenses like we see in the social media. So I haven’t heard about a JPML yet, but I think before the end of the year, we’ll get some momentum to that and we could see MdL. Those are some of the ones that we’re watching out here for the coming months, but it should be pretty good. We’ll get some new mass towards out there for us here in 2024.

Susan B. (0:07:08) – Fantastic. Joe, as always, really appreciate the quick hits and the updates and insights on what’s happening in the industry. Certainly value your input. And thanks so much for your time.

Joe F. (0:07:19) – Thanks, Susan.

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