Johnson & Johnson Halts Production of Talc-Based Baby Powder in North America
On May 19, 2020, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”), announced that it would permanently halt production of its controversial talc-based baby powder throughout the North American market, including in the United States and Canada. In public comments made by the company in the announcement, J&J indicated that the decision was made for economic reasons and not tied to product safety, alluding to the thousands of lawsuits currently facing the company that allege its talc-based products cause cancer and contains asbestos.
Starting your own law firm can be a daunting prospect for even the most experienced attorneys. There are a multitude of significant considerations: how to handle the departure from your current firm, who to bring with you, how to manage the impact on your clients. There are so many components to consider that some lawyers never progress beyond a mere contemplation of their dream to be on their own.
While there is no limit to the information immediately available to us in today’s era of endless technology, there is no substitute for firsthand experience. Regina Calcaterra, Esq., founding partner of Calcaterra Pollack LLP, is the ideal person to advise other attorneys on what it takes to venture out on your own. Regina carries an impressive list of accolades—she specializes in complex federal and state litigation representing public entities, labor, health and welfare funds, businesses and individuals.
On May 13, 2020, another coronavirus-related class action suit was filed against the cruise industry, this time in federal court in the Southern District of Florida against Celebrity Cruise Inc. The suit alleges that the cruise line was aware of the dangerous conditions presented by a COVID-19 outbreak aboard a vessel due to the virus’s ability to rapidly spread, and yet failed to reasonably protect passengers.
On May 11, 2020, class claims were filed against food delivery service Grubhub in Colorado federal court, alleging that the company knowingly promoted a false advertising campaign with the intent to steer users to its partnered restaurants by incorrectly listing on the app that non-partnered restaurants are either closed or not accepting online orders.
On April 27, 2020, two similar proposed class action claims were filed in California federal court against The Regents of the University of California and the Board of Trustees of California State University in the Northern and Central District Courts of California, respectively. The suits allege that the defendants failed to return fees to students that were paid to the educational institutions for services no longer offered due to the shutdown of campuses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 30, 2020, actress and budding homeware designer, Drew Barrymore, alongside Walmart and Jet.com, were served with federal copyright infringement claims in the Central District of California. The lawsuit alleges that the retailers offered for sale Barrymore’s Flower Home products, which featured an unauthorized copy of the plaintiff’s unique design.
It’s hard to imagine that just a few short months ago, the thought of American life grinding to a halt seemed unfathomable. And yet, here we all are. For those of us fortunate enough to be able to work from home, a “new normal” has developed since the time that stay-at-home mandates threw us into a chaotic new reality. This new normal has blurred the lines of our work and home lives, as many of us now juggle Zoom meetings from our living rooms in between home schooling children and checking in on our families and friends.
On April 23, 2020, two similar, but separate class action lawsuits were filed in the Southern District of New York and Northern District of New York by students at Columbia University and Cornell University, respectively, alleging that the Ivy League universities failed to reimburse students for tuition, fees and other costs, after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the transition to an online format.
On April 27, 2020, New Jersey District Court Judge Freda L. Wolfson ruled that most of the plaintiffs’ experts in the Talc Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) met the stringent scientific requirements of the Daubert standard. The ruling is being hailed as a major victory by the plaintiffs in the suit. Had Judge Wolfson granted in full the defendants' request to bar the plaintiffs’ expert testimony, the MDL would likely have collapsed.
“Do you give up a little liberty to get a little protection?” This rhetorical question was posed by the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Dr. Fauci’s question arose during an April 2020 Snapchat Live interview, in response to the notion that the United States could start to implement digital contact tracing to help limit the spread of COVID-19. According to Dr. Fauci and many public health care experts, digital contact apps will be necessary for the country to gain a firm grasp on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as the nation makes moves towards reopening.
With the ongoing COIVD-19 pandemic continuing to put strains on an already over-burdened American healthcare system, some states have taken steps to ensure that the looming threat of a lawsuit does not stand in the way of medical professionals providing care to the onslaught of patients inundating hospitals. Situations that many healthcare providers are facing during this pandemic, such as a lack of ventilators, medical equipment and supplies, have triggered a need for ventilator triage policies at many hospitals located in the hardest hit areas of the county. The dire circumstances, in some cases, have forced doctors to make judgment calls as to which patient will get a life-saving ventilator, which many have feared will open up a slew of unwanted future lawsuits. The threat of potential lawsuits likely weighs heavily on the minds of healthcare workers, including recent medical school graduates who may not yet have malpractice insurance.
On April 14, 2020, another class action lawsuit was filed against the cruise industry for failure to respond in a timely manner to the threat of COVID-19. The most recent suit was filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida against Celebrity Cruises, Inc. (“Celebrity”).
On April 7, 2020, class claims were filed against Costa Cruise Lines (“Costa”), owned by Carnival Corporation, in Florida federal court alleging that Costa knowingly subjected over 2,000 passengers aboard the Costa Luminosa to the highly-contagious Coronavirus.
On April 10, 2020, class claims were filed against Six Flags Theme Park Inc., alleging that the company has continued to charge some of its customers monthly membership fees while at the same time prohibiting access to Six Flags’ various theme parks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 2, 2020, event ticket sales company StubHub Inc., was served with class claims in federal court in the Western District of Wisconsin, that alleged defendant is attempting to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic by refusing to issue cash refunds to customers who purchased tickets through StubHub for events that have been cancelled due to the ongoing crisis.