Category Archives: Litigation

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To Each His Own … Law

In a ruling that could make legal cases more predictable for companies, a New Jersey court held that laws from other states could apply to different defendants in the same negligence case. The case involved a couple who was given incorrect information regarding their child’s chances of being born with Tay-Sachs. The plaintiffs filed a wrongful birth claim, also known as a wrongful life claim, which is when a medical provider allegedly failed to warn parents of the risk of conceiving a child with serious…

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Defeating “Unnatural” Class Actions

On June 12, 2015 a plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit against Kraft Foods claiming that its Capri Sun beverages are not “all natural” because they contain citric acid and flavorings. “Simply put,” the plaintiff alleges in Osborne v. Kraft Foods Group, Inc., “they contain unnatural ingredients.” These allegations have become commonplace in beverage labeling class actions. Snapple, AriZona, Skinnygirl Margarita mix, and Pure Leaf Iced Tea have all faced similar accusations. The Pure Leaf class action complaint, Laboon v. Unilever U.S., Inc. filed…

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Poor Natural Gas Pipeline Recordkeeping After Explosion Results in $14.4M Fine

A California appeals court recently upheld a $14.4 million fine issued against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (“PG&E”) by the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) for improper reporting of the pressure in a natural gas pipeline that had previously exploded in 2010, killing eight and destroying 38 homes. After the pipeline explosion in San Bruno, the CPUC fined PG&E $1.6 billion. CPUC’s investigation found that PG&E’s recordkeeping on its transmission pipeline records was substantially insufficient. They ordered PG&E to reduce pipeline operating pressure by 20…

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New York’s Bar on Personal Injury Settlement Liens Upheld

Plaintiffs in New York products liability cases which settle – a category encompassing most such cases – need not reimburse their private health insurer for health care costs, under a 2009 New York statute, General Obligations Law sec. 5-335. The statute created a presumption that a personal injury settlement does not include any compensation for the cost of health care services paid by the injured person’s health benefit provider.  For years prior to the enactment, private health insurers asserted liens or “rights of recovery” against…

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Supreme Court’s Juice Decision Could Open the Door to New Litigation

Juice maker POM Wonderful manufactures 100% pomegranate juice and other juice products made primarily from the pomegranate fruit. Since its founding in 2002, the company has reached a growing market of health-conscious consumers who are willing to pay a premium for the claimed health benefits of the pomegranate fruit. In 2008, POM filed a deceptive labeling claim against a competing juice manufacturer arguing that its label, which prominently displayed the words “pomegranate blueberry” despite containing less than half of a percent of these juices, was…

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How Much Is Too Much “Medical Evidence” To Ask For In A Personal Injury Action?

In the context of two lead paint exposure cases, the New York State Court of Appeals was recently called upon to delineate the plaintiffs’ obligations to substantiate their claims of injury during the course of discovery. In Giles v. Yi and Hamilton v. Miller, the Court struck a balance between plaintiffs’ obligations to support their claimed injuries with medical evidence and defendants’ interests in ferreting out medically unsupported or unsupportable claims at an early stage. In both cases the plaintiffs disclosed medical reports demonstrating that…

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Pain Pump Manufacturer Prevails on Summary Judgment

In Mack v. Stryker Corp., the plaintiff instituted a product liability action that alleged a pain pump was defective and caused her to develop a painful shoulder condition. The defendant-manufacturer filed a motion for summary judgment, which argued the case should be dismissed because it was not foreseeable that the use of the pump would lead to joint damage. A federal court in Minnesota agreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim.  The Eighth Circuit affirmed even though the plaintiff provided expert testimony from an orthopedic surgeon…

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Can A Company Prevent Litigation Through Forced Arbitration?

This intriguing question has recently cropped up in response to a bold effort on the part of corporate food giant, General Mills, to bind consumers to an arbitration agreement if the consumer, for example, downloaded a coupon from the company’s website, entered a company sweepstakes, or interacted with the company in certain other ways. On April 2, 2014, General Mills added new legal terms to its website which required consumer disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service…

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Asbestos Defendants Face New Risk as Court Permits Punitive Damages in NYCAL Trials

On April 8, 2014, Justice Sherry Klein Heitler issued a decision permitting asbestos plaintiffs in New York County to seek punitive damages in asbestos trials — a departure from decades of prior practice in New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL). For almost 20 years, the NYCAL Case Management Order (CMO) deferred indefinitely any trial of punitive damages in asbestos cases, until this past year when plaintiffs’ attorneys moved to modify the CMO to remove that deferral. The decision this week profoundly impacts industries embroiled in…

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Worked to Death? Family of Deceased Nurse Sues Employer

In the 24/7 healthcare world, it is not uncommon for nurses and other health care professionals to work long hours and overnight shifts. In a recent case in Ohio, a family of a deceased 38 year old nurse is suing The Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati where she used to work as a nurse in the bone marrow unit. A year ago, the nurse lost control of her vehicle driving home after completing a 12 hour shift at the hospital and passed away.  The hospital and…

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