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Some of us on the Blog are veterans of the original vaccine wars – those that preceded the enactment of the Vaccine Act, 42 U.S.C. §§300aa-10, et seq.  That litigation, involving DTP and certain other childhood vaccines, nearly destroyed this country’s ability to vaccinate its children against often deadly diseases – much to the delight of antivaxxers everywhere.  After Congress acted in 1986, much to the delight of everyone else, the Act’s alternative compensation system, combined with its strong preemption provisions restricting post-compensation system litigation have largely restored the nation’s childhood vaccine supply to a sound footing.  The Supreme Court did its part in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC, 562 U.S. 223, 231-33 (2011), holding that the Vaccine Act preempted all design defect claims asserted by claimants who rejected Vaccine Act awards and sought to litigate their claims instead.

Continue Reading Terrible Decision Contravenes the Vaccine Act’s Purpose and Would Gut Its Protections

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Drug manufacturers are not insurers against injury from or while taking medications.  Neither are distributors or pharmacies.  Just because a patient experiences a complication while taking a medication, including the very condition the medication is supposed to help prevent, does not mean that some person or entity should be liable to the patient for her injuries.  Sometimes, there is no fault or liability to be found.  We do not think these are controversial principles, but we find that they apply to more than a few of the cases giving rise to the decisions about which we expound.

We also find that missing facts from complaints can speak volumes.  Similarly, when a plaintiff waits until the third complaint to add case-specific factual allegations that should have been there from the start or when factual allegations pop in and out of serial amendments you have to question the basis for those allegations.  At least we do.  As inveterate curmudgeons, we tend to think bare-bones, boilerplate allegations are unlikely to be supported if the case gets to the merits.  Of course, part of the game for some plaintiffs is to get past pleadings and hope the defendants opt for settlement instead of paying the costs of defense.  The Twombly and Iqbal decisions tightened pleading standards, and thus improved the chance of success on motions to dismiss in federal court and some states have followed along.  The hole, and source of our periodic grumbling, is how often dismissals are without prejudice and accompanied by leave to amend.  Too often, it seems that the provision in Fed. R. Civ. P. 15 that courts “should freely give leave when justice so requires” leads to leave even when it should be obvious that amendment will be futile, not to mention a waste of judicial resources.

Continue Reading Five Strikes Needed To Dismiss A Questionable Case

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Happy Star Wars Day. May the Fourth be with you.

If all FDA approved medicines enjoyed the preemption protection that vaccines do, the DDL product liability litigation landscape would be leaner and less nonsensical. Flores v. Merck & Co., 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46442 (D. Nev. March 16, 2022), shows why that is so.

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Bostic v. Ethicon, Inc., 2022 WL 952129 (E.D. Pa. March 29, 2022), is a Pennsylvania mesh case raising a host of familiar issues in a motion to dismiss context. The complaint is of the typically overpleaded (14-count) variety. Dickens was not really paid by the word, but plaintiff lawyers seem to think they might

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These days, you are probably expecting a vaccine post to be about Covid.  And while we are sure we are not done with litigation in that field, for today at least we thought we would harken back to a good, old-fashioned, garden variety vaccine products liability case and some tried and true preemption.

The plaintiff

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For the first time in two years, we write from the confines of our office in downtown Philadelphia.  While we loved the full-time “work from home” regime, we have fondly re-embraced the near-forgotten view from our 30th-floor window, along with our Dancing Barney doll, our RBG action figure, and our solar-powered effigy of

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This post is from the non-Reed Smith side of the blog.

A lawyer is a person who writes a 10,000-word document and calls it a “brief.”— Franz Kafka

Our profession often gets criticized for purposeful confusion via legalese, fine print, or just plain old-fashioned verbosity.  We cannot deny that the loquacious and the prolific

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We have promised ourselves that we will stream this week’s “This Is Us” episode when we finish this blog post.  We love this series beyond reason, and we dread its imminent demise, notwithstanding the title’s grammatical transgression.  (We generally condition any sort of allegiance on correct use of predicate nominatives.)  We are struck, over and

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Some product liability cases are so bad they won’t fly even in California.  Gall v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., ___ Cal. Rptr.3d ___, 2021 WL 5027197 (Cal. App. Oct. 29, 2021), is one of those.  Plaintiff alleged that the defendant inadequately warned about the alleged risks of a hip implant, or alternatively that the