In August of 2019, following a seven-week bench trial, Judge Thad Balkman of Oklahoma’s Cleveland County District Court found biotech and healthcare company Johnson & Johnson responsible for sparking the state’s opioid epidemic through use of “disingenuous marketing schemes” used to drive the sale of its prescription painkillers. This ruling, which ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay the state of Oklahoma $572 million dollars in damages, resulted in the first ever successful lawsuit brought by the state against a defendant drug manufacturer stemming from a sole cause of action: public nuisance.

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In Thomas-Fish v. Aetna Steel Prod. Corp., plaintiff Helen Thomas-Fish alleged her husband Robert Fish had died from mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos through his work at a shipbuilding yard in New Jersey in 1960. No. 17-CV-10648 RMB/KMW, 2019 WL 2354555, at *1 (D.N.J. June 4, 2019).  Plaintiff brought a wrongful death claim against various defendants including Sonic Industries (“Sonic”), an alleged joiner contractor that installed asbestos-containing paneling during shipbuilding. Sonic was incorporated in California in 1966, six years after the alleged exposure in this case. In addition, Sonic maintained its principal place of business in Connecticut. Accordingly, Sonic was not subject to general jurisdiction in the state of New Jersey. Instead, Plaintiff asserted that Sonic was subject to specific jurisdiction in New Jersey through an unnamed predecessor entity under a successor liability theory. Defendant Sonic filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2).

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Most startups initially focus on incorporation, funding, and protecting their intellectual property, which is logical and practical! While these are all important and necessary, startups should also ensure that they are protecting their new startup from legal actions such as a lawsuit – the dreaded “L” word. A lawsuit is the official court process in which two or more parties seek to resolve a dispute. A legal battle can be lengthy, expensive, and create bad publicity. Startups are experiencing a rise in litigation and below we will focus on three growing risks to startups and provide practical steps to prevent these types of lawsuits.

Being threatened with a lawsuit is always frightening and unsettling but sometimes can be avoided. For example, in a sole proprietorship, both the company and owner could be liable for the damages. Structuring a startup as a corporation or a limited liability company could help reduce owner liability. Generally speaking, the creditors of a business also cannot succeed against the founders and other investors of corporations and LLCs for unpaid debts because they are sheltered by the corporate status.
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patent law gavelOn February 23, 2018, in In re Silver, the Supreme Court of Texas conditionally granted mandamus relief and vacated the trial court’s order compelling production of emails between an inventor and his non-lawyer registered patent agent. In re Silver, Case No. 16-0682, 2018 WL 1022470 (Tex. February 23, 2018). The court held that a client’s communications with a patent agent, made to facilitate the agent’s provision of authorized legal services to the client, are privileged under Texas Rule of Evidence 503 (attorney-client privilege). The ruling marked the first time a state high court weighed in on the issue.

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Toxic Tort Monitor

February 12, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editors: Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden
New Developments
Which Came First: Subject Matter or Personal Jurisdiction?
By Mary Kate Mullen

Two recent Eastern District of Missouri cases examined the same issue, yet the court reached opposite results. In Lewis v. Johnson & Johnson and Jinright v.

Product Liability Monitor

December 4, 2017
New Developments
Missouri Adopts Daubert: What It Means in Product Liability Cases
By Theresa Mullineaux

In March 2017, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed House Bill 153, which amended Mo. Rev. Stat. § 490.065, and effectively adopted Daubert standards for Missouri cases, effective in August 2017. As a result, Missouri now follows

courtYesterday, March 28, 2017, Missouri Governor, Eric Greitens, signed House Bill 153. This Bill amends parts of section 490.065 of the Missouri Revised Statutes (RSMo), which governs testimony of expert witness.

With the enactment of the new standards under 490.065(2), Missouri’s approach to expert testimony now aligns with that of the Federal Courts. The requirements as set out Subsection Two are identical to those of Federal Rules of Evidence 702, 703 and 705, which are the basis for the principles of the Daubert Standard as set out by the United States Supreme Court. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceutical, 509 U.S. 579 (1993). This consistency between Missouri and Federal Court standards is significant because it should make it easier to exclude unscientific “junk science.”


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