A newly released report, placing special emphasis on pharmaceutical products and medical devices, contains data on more than 400,000 product liability cases pending in U.S. District Courts from 2009 through 2017, including multi-district litigation (MDL) and non-MDL cases.
Produced by Lex Machina, a LexisNexis company, the ‘Product Liability Litigation’ report showcases data and trends surrounding cases in which a party seeks compensation for physical or emotional injury, or property damage, caused by a product defect. It spotlights the large number of claims related to pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
“Every year, the number of product liability cases filed in District Court consistently outpaces the combined case filings for patent, commercial, employment, trademark, copyright, antitrust, securities, and bankruptcy appeals,” said Owen Byrd, general counsel and chief evangelist at Lex Machina. “Of those product liability cases, medical device and pharmaceutical litigation accounts for the lion’s share of all filings, which is why we’ve chosen to feature this sector in our first annual report.”
MDL-associated cases comprised more than 97 percent of medical device/pharmaceutical cases filed in 2017, with only 667 of the 29,185 total cases not affiliated with an MDL master case. Tools are provided to enable users to either exclude or include MDL-associated cases.
Other Key Findings:
- Since January 1, 2009, more than 289,200 product liability cases were filed in District Court, involving products classified by Lex Machina as medical devices or pharmaceuticals, including MDL-associated cases. The next largest category was asbestos, with more than 87,300 cases. Asbestos case filings in District Court have declined from tens of thousands per year during 2009-2011 to merely hundreds per year during 2012-2016.
- Almost all (96 percent) product liability cases involving medical devices or pharmaceutical products are settled or resolved procedurally, instead of on the merits of the case. When product liability cases are decided on the merits, defendants prevail about 90 percent of the time.
- Cases litigated through to court award of damages are rare in product liability cases involving medical devices and pharmaceutical products.
- Three districts tied for the largest percent of non-MDL filings across all product categories from 2009 to 2017: Central District of California (C.D. Cal), Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and District of New Jersey—each with 5 percent.
- Since 2009, New Jersey has had the most non-MDL-associated medical device/pharmaceutical case filings (8 percent). C.D. Cal and Eastern District of Louisiana are tied at 6 percent, and Northern District of Texas captured 5 percent. The data includes cases that may later become associated with an MDL.
Lex Machina also released a new ‘Expert Witness Explorer’ app—eighth app in its ‘Legal Analytics’ platform—enabling users to find data about the use of expert witnesses or reports, including how many times the expert or report has been admitted, limited, or excluded from a case, the most common experts and the parties that retained them, and how judge rulings have favored plaintiffs vs. defendants.
The Product Liability Litigation report focuses on the U.S. District Courts, and does not include appeals, or modifications of judgments on appeal, or state court cases.
A copy of the report is available from Lex Machina by request.
Editor’s Note: Additional information on asbestos and mesothelioma is available from the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.
(Source: Lex Machina)