‘In re Lipitor’: Fourth Circuit Smacks Down Result-Oriented Expert Testimony

Featured Expert Contributor, Judicial Gatekeeping of Expert Evidence

By Tager_09181Evan M. Tager, a Partner in the Washington, DC office of Mayer Brown LLP, with Carl J. Summers, an Associate with Mayer Brown LLP.

Although often couched in gentile terms, the real concern underlying both Daubert’s core requirement of reliability and the gatekeeping role of district courts more generally is that all too often expert witnesses see their role as hired guns, offering—for a price—whatever opinions are necessary in order for their clients to prevail.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently issued an extensive decision politely but firmly renouncing such testimony.

In re Lipitor (Atorvastatin Calcium) Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation arose out of multi-district litigation in which the plaintiffs alleged that the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor caused them to develop diabetes.  After excluding or sharply limiting the testimony of the bellwether plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Pfizer, Inc., on the ground that the plaintiffs lacked sufficient evidence of causation.  Continue reading “‘In re Lipitor’: Fourth Circuit Smacks Down Result-Oriented Expert Testimony”

No Infinite Legal Duty: Arizona Supreme Court Rejects “Take Home” Asbestos Liability Theory

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A business’s legal duty?

By Darrian Matthews, a 2018 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at Washington Legal Foundation who will be entering her third year at Texas Tech University School of Law in the fall.

Under the law, employers are responsible for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of their employees, along with other people who might be affected by their business. The question then is how far do those duties extend? In Quiroz v. Alcoa, the Arizona Supreme Court held that although an employer undeniably owes a duty to employees for asbestos exposure, they owe no duty to the public at large regarding secondary asbestos exposure. By deciding that Arizona companies have no duty to protect family members from exposure to harmful materials their employees may take home on their work clothes, Arizona has refused to go the way of neighboring states on “take home” asbestos liability. Continue reading “No Infinite Legal Duty: Arizona Supreme Court Rejects “Take Home” Asbestos Liability Theory”

Trio of Soda Cases Test the Limits of Attorney-Driven Class Action Lawsuits

marguliesGuest Commentary

By Jeffrey B. Margulies, Partner-in-Charge of the Los Angeles, CA office of Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP.

The approach of many plaintiff consumer class-action lawyers is not difficult to discern: Concoct a factual theory to support a claim under California’s consumer-friendly laws that survives a motion to dismiss and a motion for class certification. Even if the liability case is highly improbable, the economics of the exposure to a certified class of consumers will compel all but the bravest of defendants to settle, handsomely rewarding the plaintiffs’ lawyers with fees. District courts in the Northern District of California, home to a surfeit of cases over alleged mislabeling of foods and beverages, have allowed many dubious factual claims to proceed.

Yet, even as (or perhaps because) the Ninth Circuit has removed obstacles to consumer class actions such as ascertainability (Briseno v. ConAgra Foods, Inc.) and standing to pursue injunctive relief (Davidson v. Kimberly-Clark Corporation), a trio of recent district court decisions over sodas appears to signal either that the Food Court is growing less tolerant of factually implausible claims, or that the plaintiff’s bar has gone a bridge too far. Continue reading “Trio of Soda Cases Test the Limits of Attorney-Driven Class Action Lawsuits”

Neither Reason nor Science Supports Class Actions against Diet Soda Makers

 

A Food Court Follies Analysis

No doubt, many a diet soda will be consumed this weekend. Will any of those consumers, though, purchase that soda—in reliance on the manufacturers’ devious use of “diet”—because they think it will assist in weight loss?

diet pepsiThat impression is the basis of a number of copycat consumer class-action lawsuits filed in New York and California by the same lawyers on behalf of soda purchasers against Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. Four such suits have been dismissed, the most recent being Manuel v. Pepsi-Cola Co. in an pointedly written opinion by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Paul A. Engelmayer. Continue reading “Neither Reason nor Science Supports Class Actions against Diet Soda Makers”

Update: Federal District Court Rejects Minority View on Pharma “Innovator Liability”

pillsIn a recent post, West Virginia’s High Court Rejects Novel Theory of “Innovator Liability”, WLF Senior Litigation Counsel Cory Andrews discussed a state court decision that declined liability on a pharmaceutical manufacturer for alleged harms caused by a drug it did not produce. In doing so, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals parted company with the highest courts of two other states, California and Massachusetts, which earlier this year embraced the minority view that plaintiffs can recover damages from so-called branded pharmaceutical companies for harms allegedly caused by the generic copy of the the brand-name drug.

On May 21, a U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts judge overseeing a multidistrict litigation, In re: Zofran (Ondansetron) Products Liability Litigation, followed the majority view of innovator liability and dismissed three claims filed by plaintiffs who had only ingested the generic version of Zofran. Continue reading “Update: Federal District Court Rejects Minority View on Pharma “Innovator Liability””

West Virginia’s High Court Rejects Novel Theory of “Innovator Liability”

west vaShould the law recognize a plaintiff’s tort claims against a branded drug manufacturer when the drug that allegedly caused the plaintiff’s injuries was manufactured and sold by the defendant’s generic competitor? State and federal courts have been grappling with this novel question of “innovator liability” ever since the U.S. Supreme Court held, in Pliva and Bartlett, that such tort claims against generic manufacturers are preempted under federal law.

At bottom, innovator liability seeks to hold innovator drug manufacturers liable for injuries resulting from products they neither manufactured nor sold. Such “deep pocket jurisprudence,” as a recent Washington Legal Foundation paper by Shook Hardy & Bacon’s Victor Schwartz explains, marks a radical departure from long-settled principles of product liability premised on a naked policy decision that shifts financial responsibility onto a third party with the deepest pockets. Continue reading “West Virginia’s High Court Rejects Novel Theory of “Innovator Liability””

Update: Ninth Circuit Softens its Decision in Flushable Wipes Case

roibal_lucia_webGuest Commentary

By Lucía Roibal, an Associate with Morrison & Foerster LLP in the firm’s San Francisco, CA office. This commentary is reposted with permission, originally appearing on May 17, 2018 in the firm’s Class Dismissed  blog.

On May 9, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an Opinion amending its previous decision in Davidson v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., 873 F.3d 1103 (9th Cir. 2017).  As noted in a December 4, 2017 post on the 2017 decision, the Ninth Circuit had held that the fact that a plaintiff now knows the “truth” of an allegedly false advertisement does not foreclose injunctive standing.

In its amended Opinion, the panel clarifies its decision and refines the requirements for injunctive standing in the misbranding context in three ways: (1) it confirms that Article III injunctive standing requires plaintiffs to allege an intent to repurchase the product at issue; (2) it changes its previous stance that consumer protection laws would be gutted without injunctive relief; and (3) it holds that Plaintiff sufficiently alleged a “concrete and particularized” injury as well as redressability. Continue reading “Update: Ninth Circuit Softens its Decision in Flushable Wipes Case”