LPR Attorneys Urge Lawyers to “Do Something Extraordinary” in the World of Mass Torts | Levin Papantonio Rafferty - Personal Injury Law Firm

LPR Attorneys Urge Lawyers to “Do Something Extraordinary” in the World of Mass Torts

Heavy hitter attorneys from Levin Papantonio Rafferty took center stage at the Trial Lawyers Summit this Monday in Miami Beach, Florida.

A line-up of LPR lawyers spoke to a room of trial attorneys about the top cases that are taking the mass torts world by storm.

To kick things off, LPR Attorney Mike Papantonio inspired the crowd with inspirational words conveying that the world of mass torts is there for the taking. “There’s no reason you should believe some lawyer has the ability to handle a project that settles for billions of dollars, and you don’t. It’s not true,” Papantonio said.

“You can make a decision to maintain your status quo, or you could choose to do something extraordinary.”

Papantonio explained to the audience that lawyers struggle with saying goodbye to old ideas and that most possess a history of success early in life that makes them uncomfortable in later years with the idea of coloring outside the lines.

According to Papantonio, the attorneys who succeed with the massive settlements that can accompany mass torts have done so because they were willing and able to think outside the box. “It’s not lightning in a bottle,” he said. “You become what you think about.”

When Papantonio concluded his opening remarks, the LPR attorneys heading up large mass tort cases gave the audience an overview of these cases and what makes them good.

Camp Lejeune

LPR Attorney Brian Barr started off by sharing the scope of the Camp Lejeune cases. “You’re not just talking about veterans, you’re talking about family members,” Barr said. “And you’re talking about more than 40 diseases.”

The hardest part of any personal injury case is always causation, and Barr explained that the Camp Lejeune cases benefit from a lower causation standard: “as least as likely.”

Although hundreds of millions of dollars have been put into advertising in Camp Lejeune cases, the market is not saturated, Barr explained.

“What I have seen is that every single one of these people wants be represented by somebody local,” Barr said. “They want a local lawyer … an office they can walk into.”

LPR has presented Camp Lejeune town hall meetings in multiple cities across the country, with local attorneys co-sponsoring the events. The meetings have proven to be a successful way for veterans and their families to get the representation they need in filing Camp Lejeune water contamination cases.

CPAP

Next, LPR Attorney Troy Bouk encouraged attendees to consider the possibility that they have existing clients who might have strong Philips CPAP cases. “If you go through your client records, you’ll find at least one client who has used one of these devices,” Bouk said.

According to Bouk, 64% of the CPAP market out there is one of these [defective] devices. “If your client is being treated for sleep apnea, there’s a 64% chance they’ve used one of these devices.”

Bouk added that Philips recently released its testing of the recalled devices and found several traits that are clearly associated with cancer, including the fact that the particles emitted from degrading device foam are genotoxic, induce chronic inflammation, and alter cell proliferation.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 483 report Philips knew about the foam and the issues with it since at least 2015. “They knew it could cause these health problems,” Bouk said.

He added that LPR is looking at cases involving lung cancer and ENT cancers and informed law firms that LPR can help with the proper vetting of any potential cases.

Baby Formula and Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)

“It is heartbreaking,” said LPR Attorney Andy Childers of the fact that pre-term infants who develop necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after being fed cows-milk-based baby formula.

Childers described NEC as a “horrible condition”—one that preemie babies suffer a 4.2% increased chance of developing after consuming these products.

Childers informed the audience that a multidistrict litigation (MDL 3026) is currently in place in the Northern District of Illinois (NDIL). The MDL was set up in April 2022 and already had an initial scheduling order, with 12 bellwether cases having been selected.

“We also have a direct filing order,” Childers said, “meaning you don’t need to be admitted to NDIL to file against Mead Johnson defendants.”

The case criteria for LPR’s NEC baby formula cases include:

  1. Diagnosis of NEC
  2. Fed cows-milk-based formula or fortifier before diagnosis/injury
  3. Injuries: intestinal perforation or any kind of injury to the intestine that required surgery

PFAS

LPR Attorney Madeline Pendley gave the audience of attorneys a rapid-fire tutorial on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) claims. These lawsuits claim that manufacturers have released these toxic chemicals into water supplies, causing individuals to develop cancer and other serious illnesses.

Pendley explained that PFAS is an umbrella term for hundreds if not thousands of chemicals.

For personal injury [cases], LPR is mostly focused on perfluorooctane sulfonate (“PFOS”) and perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”), Pendley said.

“PFAS chemicals have been used in hundreds of products,” she explained. “including aqueous film-forming foam.”

Aqueous firefighting foams [AFFF], also known as firefighting foam, are used to extinguish highly hazardous liquid fires and is a common tool for firefighters, commercial aircraft manufacturers, and in oil refineries, chemical plants, and military facilities.

Pendley said the products work well for their intended purpose. The problems lie with their carcinogenic traits and with the instructions for use issued by manufacturers.

“[PFAS are] intentionally very difficult to get rid of,” Pendley said. “If you get rid of the foam how the companies tell you to get rid of the foam, these chemicals end up in the drinking water.”

“There have been decades of deception,” she added.

The equipment needed to clean up PFAS contamination costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Pendley.

The criteria LPR is currently considering for PFAS cases include the following injuries: testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and ulcerative colitis. The contamination must arise from a qualifying location, with the injured party having endured six months of exposure.

Paraquat

LaRuby May, Of-Counsel, LPR, painted a moving picture of those who have been injured by the popular herbicide Paraquat.

“If anyone here has ever sent their mom flowers for mother’s day, those flowers could have been grown by a flower farmer who regularly used Paraquat for weed elimination,” May said. Exposure to Paraquat has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, which May described as “a horrible and terminal disease.”

“I’m proud to represent these individuals,” she added.

The Paraquat MDL trial is scheduled for October 16, 2023, May reported.

May also talked about some of the challenges involved in handling Paraquat cases, starting with finding the cases and ascertaining that they used Paraquat. While many farmers may have been Paraquat users, they were not the purchasers, so it takes some sleuthing to determine and validate how the potential client knows they used Paraquat.

In addition, not every farmer who endured exposure to Paraquat and was affected by it knows they have Parkinson’s disease—even if they are experiencing symptoms associated with the illness.

“This is a worthy population of individuals who deserve you representing them,” May stressed. “These clients are very worthy of your spending time and effort to find them,” May urged.

“In many rural communities, [farmers] might have some of the symptoms but have not been diagnosed,” May explained. “They might be in a community where they’ve never seen a neurologist.”

“Join this team of giant-killers who are representing these individuals,” she urged.

Hair Relaxers

“Societal standards have dictated what is acceptable as far as beauty standards go, particularly in the hair of Black and Brown communities,” said LPR Attorney Chelsie Green, who is representing clients in chemical hair relaxer lawsuits.

These civil actions claim that exposure to the chemicals in hair relaxer products caused people to develop uterine or ovarian cancer. The endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) used in chemical hair relaxer products interfere with the normal function of the human endocrine system, Green explained, which harms the body’s natural hormonal production and degradation. A variety of health problems, including cancer, can result.

Green told the audience of attorneys about an upcoming JPML hearing to discuss centralizing the hair relaxer claims brought through federal courts in a multidistrict litigation (Case MDL No. 3060) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Plaintiffs attorneys can avail themselves of a free MTMP Connect webinar on February 7 that will bring attendees up to speed on the latest in the hair relaxer litigation, including the JPML hearing and MDL updates, as well as the latest information on case criteria and science, Green said.

She added that currently, the criteria for hair relaxer cases include four or more uses of hair relaxer in a 12-month period, as well as diagnosis of either uterine cancer or ovarian cancer.

Attorneys Can Learn More About These and Other Mass Torts at MTMP, Las Vegas, April 2023

The panel of LPR attorneys only scratched the surface on current mass tort cases that plaintiffs’ attorneys can join to expand their practices.

For a much deeper dive into these cases, attorneys should consider attending MTMP Spring 2023 in Las Vegas on April 11-13.