J&J Hit with $575M in Oklahoma Ruling over Opioid Crisis
On August 26, 2019, Oklahoma state court Judge Thad Balkman found Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) responsible for causing the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, and ordered that J&J must pay $572 million to repair the damage. This ruling comes almost six weeks after the conclusion of a seven-week bench trial, where state attorneys successfully proved J&J and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., created a public nuisance by overstating the benefits of narcotic painkillers while downplaying the risk for addiction.
On August 13 2019, cosmetic company Younique agreed to a $3.25 million settlement, ending class action claims alleging that the company falsely marketed its mascara product as containing “natural fibers.” The settlement fund’s purpose is to make payments to customers in 11 states who bought the “Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes” between 2012 and 2015 based upon the assumption Younique used natural fibers in the production of the lashes.
On August 19, 2019, punitive class claims were filed in Texas District Court against Enterprise Products Partners LP, Oiltanking Partners LP and CenterPoint Energy. alleging that the defendants’ actions severely damaged class members’ property and diminished property values in surrounding areas.
On August 2, 2019, a group of dissatisfied customers filed a motion for class certification in federal court in the Eastern District of Illinois. Plaintiffs are seeking a 17-state potential class action against cosmetics retail giant Ulta Beauty.
On July 19, 2019, a group of young adults filed suit against the popular vape pen manufacturer, JUUL, in California state Superior Court, County of San Francisco, alleging that the company targets nonsmoking youth with their marketing tactics in order to create a new generation of life-long nicotine addicts.
On July 22, 2019, American automotive giant Ford Motors Co. was hit with a staggering $1.2 billion putative class action lawsuit in Michigan federal court alleging that Ford manipulated its coastdown testing and used inaccurate drag and resistant figures to boost the vehicles’ EPA mileage ratings, making the vehicles more appealing to potential buyers.
On July 17, 2019, ConAgra Grocery Products Company, Sherwin Williams and NL Industries came to an agreement with ten counties in California that alleged the companies’ lead-based paint was the cause for a public health crisis in California. The settlement brings to an end nearly 20 years of litigation and demands each company pay a sum of $101,666,666.67—totaling $305 million—to be paid to the plaintiffs. The settlement states that the monies will be used “to address public health hazards, bodily injury, personal injuries, and property damage related to Lead Paint.”
On July 11, 2019, a California state appeals court found that a jury had heard erroneous instructions involving a plaintiff who hit a freeway barrier to avoid an errant flying mattress. The appellate panel found that the lower court erred in permitting a special exception that “excuses law violations if a defendant can prove it tried but could not comply with the law.”
On June 28, 2019, a Philadelphia jury awarded $500,000 to plaintiff Linda Dunfee, against Johnson & Johnson, which was found liable for design defects in a pelvic mesh implant that left plaintiff in severe pain. This marks the ninth verdict against Johnson & Johnson and in favor of plaintiffs injured by pelvic mesh design defects.
On July 5, 2019, BMW of North America LLC was met with proposed class claims in New Jersey federal court alleging that the company placed their customers in harm’s way by selling motorcycles with defective gear indicators; which, in turn heightened the risk of accidents, as well as opening the door to other safety issues. Named plaintiff Daniel Casey argued that the gear indicators in the motorcycle intermittently displayed the wrong gear or no gear at all. This phenomenon has been a point of a complaint by numerous customers, according to Casey.
On June 28, 2019, online fashion website Fashion Nova Inc., was served with class claims in federal court in the Southern District of Florida by a group of plaintiffs alleging that the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) by negligently and willfully contacting consumer’s cell phones and therefore invading their privacy.
On June 21, 2019, a group of music industry heavyweights filed a proposed class action suit against UMG Recordings Inc. (“UMG”) in California federal court alleging that the recording company negligently stored artists’ Master Recordings in an inadequate and substandard storage warehouse located on the backlot of Universal Studios that was a known firetrap.
On June 19, 2019, an $8.2 million settlement was proposed to California federal court Judge M. James Lorenz for preliminary approval, bringing an end to class claims that superstore chain Target Corp. (“Target”) engaged in deceptive marketing practices in the promotion of its Target REDCard.
On June 13, 2019, California federal court Judge Edward J. Davila granted preliminary approval for a $2.5 million settlement between The Coca-Cola Co. (“Coca-Cola”) and a proposed class of consumers who accused Coca-Cola of misleading consumers as to the true ingredients of its popular Seagram’s Ginger Ale products.
On June 12, 2019, premium humane milk producer Fairlife LLC was served with proposed class claims in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois claiming that the company engages in deceptive marketing tactics.
In the complaint, named plaintiff Andrew Schwartz and Alice Vitiello ague that Fairlife intentionally deceives customers into believing that the company treats its cows humanely in order to charge consumers a premium price for the product. Fairlife has built a brand image as a responsible, humane producer of milk and has boasted that its cows have comfortable sand beds and that freestanding stalls are provided to allow the cows constant care and relaxation.