News Recap for 8-7-2020
Wall Street Journal: Bayer Swings to Net Loss on Roundup Settlement Deal — Bayer announced this week that it expects full-year sales and earnings to come in slightly lower than initially forecast, due to a combination of its multi-billion dollar glyphosate settlement and the impacts of COVID-19 on pharmaceutical sales. In effort to prevent future lawsuits, Bayer proposed a novel type of class action that depended on the creation of a panel of scientists that Bayer wanted to definitively decide on whether glyphosate is a carcinogen as part of its settlement—but the judge in charge of approving the solution cast doubt over the proposal. Bayer and plaintiffs’ lawyers said they will work on refining the idea and bring it back to the judge.
Townhall: Trial Lawyers Looking for a $100 Billion Coronavirus Jackpot — Not everyone is suffering job loss, income declines and financial devastation from the coronavirus pandemic. Some people are looking to get rich off the tragedy. Trial lawyers see COVID-19 casualties and images of asbestos and tobacco lawsuits dancing in their heads. Already, the number of suits is approaching 5,000. The big corporations like Walmart have insurance funds for these cases and will settle most of these lawsuits rather than going to court. But for the thousands of nursing homes, hospitals, restaurants, bars and movie theaters, arbitrary lawsuits could go bankruptcy.
Bloomberg: J&J Stung by New Jersey Court Ruling Reviving Talc Cancer Claims — A New Jersey appeals court’s decision to revive two lawsuits accusing Johnson & Johnson’s iconic Baby Powder of causing cancer may lead to the reinstatement of about 1,000 suits targeting the product. The appellate panel found Atlantic County Judge Nelson Johnson was wrong to assess the credibility of plaintiffs’ experts in excluding their testimony, rather than scrutinizing the methodologies behind their conclusions that talc can cause ovarian cancer. Deciding credibility is an issue for the jury, not the judge, they said.
Packaging Digest: A Deeper Dive Into PFAS, and Why Bans Are Misguided — New York recently instituted a ban on the production and use of food packaging containing PFAS, which can be used to line paper and paperboard food packaging to make it resistant to grease, oil, water, and heat. PFAS lawsuits have grown more numerous in recent years, and could exceed asbestos as one of the biggest tort cases in the United States. As with many other science-based products that have made modern life better for people worldwide, much of the science is being ignored as these lawsuits move forward. Non-scientific information is being put forth as facts, even when they have not been scientifically studied or analyzed.
CNN: Toxic chemicals may be in fast food wrappers and take-out containers, report says — Testing done by environmental advocacy groups revealed PFAS chemicals in the food packaging of popular fast food restaurants including Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s. The published report showed that paper-fiber containers held the highest levels of any items tested. Several restaurant chains have announced plans to remove PFAS from their packaging in response to the study. Cava announced it will eliminate PFAS from its food packaging by mid-2021; Sweetgreen announced in March it would eliminate the chemicals by the end of the year; and Freshii will transition to two sizes of PFAS-free pulp bowls by early 2021.