One of the items an insurance adjuster will look at when valuing a product liability claim is to see how much the plaintiff incurred in medical expenses and medical bills after the accident. Naturally, if the injuries sustained by the plaintiff are truly “serious,” it is reasonable to expect that there will be a sizeable claim for reimbursement for the plaintiff’s medical expenses. Plaintiffs’ attorneys are aware of this and as a result will typically try to inflate the figure that represents the plaintiff’s past medical expenses. An experienced plaintiffs’ attorney recognizes that the defendant’s insurance carrier may value their client’s claim based in part on the amount of the plaintiff’s incurred medical expenses, and, as such, they want to make that figure as large as possible to maximize their client’s potential settlement or recovery at trial.

Continue Reading Recovery for Medical Expenses When a Plaintiff with Medical Insurance Opts to Treat on a Lien Basis

The Evolution of Innovator Liability for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
Brand-name drug manufacturers are not unfamiliar with the concept of Innovator Liability, under which they can be held liable for injuries caused by a product they did not make. In other words, Innovator Liability holds a manufacturer liable by virtue of being an innovator.

Innovator Liability, usually brought under a failure to warn theory, can be traced back to a 2008 California case, Conte v. Wyeth, Inc., where the Court of Appeal held that a branded drug manufacturer’s duty to warn extends to patients taking the generic counterpart. The court reasoned that it is foreseeable that physicians and pharmacists may rely on the brand drug’s label to prescribe the drug’s generic counterpart for patients.[i] Conte has been rebuffed nationwide. By July 2014, more than 100 courts in 49 states, including the U.S. Courts of Appeals for six different circuits, rejected Innovator Liability.[ii] The Supreme Court of Iowa described Innovator Liability as “deep-pocket jurisprudence [which] is law without principle.”[iii]

Continue Reading Never-Ending Liability Under Novartis

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on March 27 its plan to hold a public hearing on May 16 “to receive information from all interested parties about the potential safety issues and hazards associated with internet-connected consumer products,” commonly known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Continue Reading CPSC Takes a Dip in the IoT Regulatory Pool

On March 16, 2018, Massachusetts’s highest court , the Supreme Judicial Court, issued a ruling that we believe will increase the product liability risk exposure for pharmaceutical manufacturers in the state. In the case of Rafferty v. Merck & Co., SJC-12347 (March 16, 2018), the Supreme Judicial Court held that a user of a generic drug may not bring a simple negligence claim against the brand-name manufacturer for failure to warn, but the user could bring a failure to warn claim against the brand-name manufacturer if it could show that that the brand name manufacturer intentionally failed to update a label on its drug, “knowing or having reason to know of an unreasonable risk of death or grave bodily injury associated with its use.” The Supreme Judicial Court’s holding requires a plaintiff to show that the brand-name manufacturer’s actions were reckless, as opposed to only negligent, which is a more stringent standard to prove. The Court’s decision sought to balance protection for the consumers of generic drugs in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Pliva Inc. v. Mensing,[1] while taking into account the burden on brand-name manufacturers. However, by its own admission, this latest decision from Massachusetts’s highest Court stands in the minority of courts that have ruled on this issue. The decision is an important one, however, because brand-name manufacturers can now be held liable to the users of the generic versions of its drug under a theory of reckless failure to warn. It will be interesting to see if other jurisdictions that have not addressed the issue will follow the Massachusetts high court.
Continue Reading Rafferty v. Merck Expands Potential Liability for Drug Manufacturers in Massachusetts