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In preparation for our OTC panel next week at ACI-NY, we have kept our eyes open for any OTC cases that raise interesting issues.  Today’s case, Rooney v. Procter & Gamble Co., 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 210218 (E.D. La. Nov. 21, 2022), involves a claim by the plaintiffs that a woman developed triple negative breast cancer as a result of using an antiperspirant that she asserts contained benzene.  

The assertion that benzene was in the antiperspirant rested on testing by Valisure, an analytical pharmacy.   Some of you have heard of a Valisure before, as its testing, and results allegedly showing contamination, have been relied upon by plaintiffs in other mass torts.  Valisure calls itself “the pharmacy that checks.”  Perhaps we are cynical, but we think of a different sort of checks when we see a purported independent outfit that seems to cooperate closely with plaintiff lawyers. Here, Valisure ran tests on batches of the antiperspirant and came up with concentrations of benzene significantly higher than levels recommended by OSHA.  Valisure filed a Citizen’s Petition with the FDA seeking a recall of antiperspirant batches containing too much benzene.  (Sound familiar?) The FDA had not responded to the Citizen’s Petition.  The defendant voluntarily implemented a recall of certain batches of the antiperspirant.  

Before the court was the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ second amended complaint.  The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant violated the Louisiana Products Liability Act by selling antiperspirants without issuing adequate warnings.  The plaintiffs also alleged that the defendant was liable under theories of negligence, gross negligence, strict liability, and “fault,” and that the defendant violated the FDCA.  Some of those claims seem weird (some of what’s missing also seems weird, but it’s not our job to help plaintiffs author complaints – our criticisms are strictly destructive), but remember, we’re in Louisiana.  Not that we’re complaining.  The people are fun, the food is great, and did we mention that the Judge in this case dismissed the second amended complaint?  

Continue Reading E.D. Louisiana Dismisses Antiperspirant/Benzene Claims

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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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The recent defense win in Dains v. Bayer HealthCare LLC, 2022 WL 16572021 (N.D.N.Y. Nov. 1, 2022), demonstrates why many plaintiff-side counsel are well-advised to steer away from cases involving PMA medical devices.  Between federal preemption and TwIqbal, not one of the plaintiff’s “seventeen separately enumerated causes of action” escaped the defendant’s motion to dismiss.  Id. at *3.

Continue Reading Preemption and Pleading Send Plaintiff Packing

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We are not the only ones who have pointed out that every new contraceptive for the last fifty years or so has been the subject of litigation and that it is not hard to see how the burden associated with such litigation, even if the manufacturer does well, discourages the development of new options.  This

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We are trying very hard not to bore everyone silly with endless discussion of our puppy-to-be, almost certainly interesting only to us.  But we are failing.  So, briefly, we comment that we met the whole spectacular litter last week – eight gorgeous butterballs. Five are white, and three are now black but will probably end

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

We could have titled today’s post something like Back to Basics or Legal Writing 101 because that is how the opinion in McGuire v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc., 2022 WL 4295402 (E.D. Tex. Sep. 15, 2022) reads.  In other words, it provides a lot

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There’s more than one way to cook an egg.  And, there’s more than one way to dismiss a case. In Bennett v. Teva, the district court decision was based on preemption.  The Third Circuit took a different route basing their dismissal on TwIqbal.  While we would have preferred an appellate win on preemption

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Bexis has just submitted revisions and updates to Chapter 4 of his treatise, Drug and Medical Device Product Liability Deskbook.  Chapter 4 is “The Federal Framework,” and one of the topics it covers is the use of claimed FDCA violations as the basis for state-law claims, including, most prominently, negligence per se.  Bexis addresses in depth a number of non-FDCA-based common-law defenses to negligence per se: (1) consistency with legislative intent; (2) the force-of-law requirement; (3) prohibition on creation of novel tort duties; (4) inapplicability of licensing statutes; (5) requirement of a specific standard; and (6) causation issues.  That means Bexis has been reading a lot (hundreds) of recent non-FDCA negligence per se cases, involving everything from traffic accidents to firearms to data breaches.

Continue Reading On Pleading Negligence Per Se