Week Ahead in Products Liability: Sept. 20, 2021


(Reuters) - Here are some events of interest to the Products Liability community this week. All times are local unless otherwise noted.

Monday, Sept. 20

8 a.m. – A 10-day jury trial is scheduled to begin before U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers in Pensacola, Florida, in multidistrict litigation over 3M Co's Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2. Army veteran Brandon Adkins alleges he suffered hearing loss and bilateral tinnitus as a result of using the plugs in 2007 or earlier. This will be the fourth bellwether trial in the MDL – the largest in U.S. history, with 259,130 cases pending as of Sept. 15.

The case is In re 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, No. 19-md-2885 (Adkins, No. 7:20-012).

For the plaintiffs: Bryan Aylstock of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz; Shelley Hutson of Clark, Love & Hutson; Chris Seeger of Seeger Weiss; and Robert Cowan of Bailey Cowan Heckaman.

For 3M: Kimberly Branscome of Dechert and R. Mike Brock of Kirkland & Ellis.

Tuesday, Sept. 21

8:30 a.m. ET – Dean Kelly Smith of the University of Georgia-Athens and representatives of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration open the 8th Annual Medical Device Regulations Conference. The two-day virtual event will offer updates from FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs and Center for Devices and Radiological Health, and will feature presentations on Emergency Use Authorizations, the Breakthrough Device Program, AI, and Software as a Medical Device, and much more.

For the full agenda and speakers’ list, click here.

Wednesday, Sept. 22

9 a.m. – Attorneys for the Ohio State Troopers Association, the International Union of Police Associations, and six individual officers will seek to convince the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to revive their potential class actions against Florida-based Point Blank Enterprises over several models of body-armor vests that allegedly shift or “spontaneously disassemble” while being worn.

The lower court declined to certify any of the proposed classes last year and, because federal jurisdiction was based solely on the Class Action Fairness Act, dismissed the complaints. The appellants say the judge erroneously focused on whether every potential class member experienced a manifestation of the alleged defects.

The case is Ohio State Troopers Assn. v. Point Blank Enterprises Inc., 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals No. 20-13588.

For appellants: David Cohen, Complex Law Group; Darren Summerville of The Summerville Firm.

For Point Blank: Brian Ercole of Morgan Lewis & Bockius.

9 a.m. – The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear McKesson Corp’s appeal from a ruling that forces the drug distributor to fight the state of Oklahoma’s opioid-liability lawsuit in state court, rather than as part of the nationwide multidistrict litigation in Ohio. A federal judge in Muskogee granted Oklahoma’s motion to remand the case to state court last September, noting the complaint “explicitly disavowed any and all federal claims related to McKesson’s opioid distributions” – including to federal customers which made up 17.1% of McKesson’s Oklahoma sales between 2006 and 2019.

Notably, Oklahoma is among the handful of states that opted not to join a global opioid-liability settlement announced in July, under which McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health agreed to collectively pay $21 billion over the course of 18 years.

The case is Oklahoma ex rel. O’Connor, Attorney General v. McKesson Corp., 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals No. 20-7059.

For Oklahoma: Tillman Breckenridge of Breckenridge PLLC.

For McKesson: Beth Brinkmann of Covington & Burling; Stuart Campbell of Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson.

11 a.m. ET – Associate Deputy Minister Harpreet Kochhar of Health Canada (HC) delivers the opening keynote at the 5th North America Consumer Product Safety Summit, followed by HC Assistant Deputy Minister Isabella Chan, Acting Chairman Robert Adler of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Ricardo Sheffield Padilla of Mexico’s Consumer Protection Federal Agency (PROFECO). Public sessions at the two-day virtual event include panel discussions on E-Commerce and COVID-19; the Internet of Things; Safety by Design, and additional topics.

For more information, click here.

Know of an event that could be included in Week Ahead in Products Liability? Contact Brendan Pierson at brendan.pierson@thomsonreuters.com

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