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Gregory Perenich
1 September 2021

Mastering Mass Torts

Our firm is dedicated to protecting patients and consumers from harmful drugs, unreasonably dangerous products, environmental contamination and unsafe buildings.  The genesis of mass torts litigation can be traced primarily to asbestos and tobacco cases over 40 years ago filed by trial lawyers on behalf of individuals.  Since then, litigation in this arena has grown to include actions filed on behalf of governmental entities and states to recoup the costs of medical care by Medicare and Medicaid, as well as, for example, to pay for environmental clean-up and remediation.  Being mindful of our obligation of keeping you well informed and knowledgeable of mass torts of import to our firm, the following presents a summary of cases we are evaluating and investigating on behalf of our clients:

Dangerous Drugs and Medical Devices:

  1. Mastering Mass TortsElmiron is the brand name of a drug for treating patients diagnosed with interstitial

cystitis.  Symptoms include chronic bladder pain, urinary frequency, urinary urgency, and painful sexual intercourse.  Elmiron has been linked to a serious eye condition, maculopathy, which results in loss of vision.  In addition, there is scant scientific data to suggest that the drug has any significant efficacy in treating interstitial cystitis.  Over 200 claims are pending in lawsuits filed against Elimiron’s manufacturer.

  1. Nexium and Prilosec are proton-pump inhibitors prescribed to treat acid reflux (GERD),

but several well-regarded studies have also linked both of these drugs to strokes, bone fracture, kidney failure and heart disease.  More than 13,000 lawsuits have been filed against AstraZeneca, Proctor & Gamble, and Pfizer, the manufacturers of Nexium and Prilosec.

  1. Zantac is a both a prescribed and over the counter medication for heartburn and stomach

ulcers.  It has been linked to several types of cancer and other ill health effects.  The active component of Zantac is ranitidine.  Scientific studies have demonstrated a clear link between ranitidine and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a known carcinogen, especially when ranitidine is exposed to water.  On April 1, 2020, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it was directing Zantac be taken off the market. The FDA found that storing the drug at higher-than-normal temperatures can elevate the levels of probable human carcinogens posing a risk to public health.  Tens of thousands of Zantac cases are pending in multi-district litigation in Florida.

  1. Biocell textured breast implants and tissue expanders manufactured by Allergan have

been linked to anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma most often located in the scar capsule around the implant. In 2019, after the FDA noted that data it reviewed showed a 6 times greater likelihood of contracting anaplastic large cell lymphoma, it directed Allergan to issue a voluntarily recall.  Early detection and removal of Biocell implants is vitally important in preventing the spread of cancer to other parts of the body.  Adverse event data shows the median time from implantation to diagnosis is 8 years.

  1. Certain synthetic hernia mesh products were rushed to the market in 2005 without

adequate data to justify their safety and efficacy.  Many of these meshes have failed by contracting and migrating, resulting in nerve damage, infections, bowel damage and the need for further surgery.

  1. Philips CPAP and Bi-Level PAP lawsuit claims allege lung injuries and cancer from

foam degradation in the product.  Earlier this summer Philips announced a voluntary recall for various Philips Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure (Bi-Level PAP), Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), and mechanical ventilator devices. The component used for sound abatement can disintegrate causing users to inhale toxic and potentially even carcinogenic substances.  Philips has ascribed the degradation to unapproved cleaning methods or environmental factors such as high humidity.  Nonetheless, its CPAP User Manual failed to warn of such potential health risks and dangers.

Unsafe Products on the Market:

Paraquat

is an herbicide used in industrial farming primarily to control weed growth.  It has also been linked to Parkinson’s Disease.  The Centers for Disease Control considers Paraquat     more toxic than other herbicides.  Its toxicity can result from ingestion, skin-absorption, or inhalation. Besides causing burns, it is known as a possible cause of birth defects and cancer.  A June 2019 article in Environmental Health has noted that Paraquat is only one of two herbicides being used in the U.S. that have already been banned or are being phased out by the E.U., China and Brazil.

The causal connection between Roundup weed killer and cancer is the focus of many lawsuits and multimillion dollar verdicts.  Recently, a $25,000,000 judgment was upheld on appeal after the jury determined that Roundup was responsible for a California resident’s diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  Now Roundup’s owner, Bayer, which had purchased Monsanto in 2018, is proposing a $2 Billion Dollar settlement claim fund.  Credible scientific studies published as early as 2019 found a 41% greater chance of contracting non-Hodgkin lymphoma when exposed to the active ingredient of Roundup.

Environmental and Building Disasters:

The Piney Point Phosphate Plant’s environmental disaster in Manatee County is only the latest in a string of regulatory mishaps that have led to wide ranging contamination of our marine ecosystems, waterways and endangerment of public health.  The phosphate fertilizer plant, operated by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) from 2001 to 2004, was turned into a dredge disposal site after its original owner went bankrupt.  Piney Point contains more than 400 acres of phosphogypsum stacks containing a radioactive byproduct of the fertilizer industry. The stacks were designed to safeguard contaminated water from escaping into the environment.  But lawsuits filed by conservation groups against the FDEP and the Manatee County Port Authority allege that the leakage this past spring of millions of gallons of polluted water and the evacuation of hundreds of homes could have been avoided had state regulators heeded the warnings sounded years ago that the gypsum stack was at risk of failure.  Environmentalists have asserted that the discharge of toxic wastewater has resulted in harmful algae blooms, fish kills, and dangerous levels of pollution capable of migrating into the aquifer.  The safety of our drinking water is at issue in addition to millions of dollars in economic losses by nearby homeowners to the Piney Point plant, harmful health effects, and economic losses to the marine and tourism industries.  Last month Florida filed a lawsuit against HRK Holdings, the plant’s owner responsible for maintaining the site, seeking to recoup more than 45 million dollars spent on emergency contracting in dealing with the crisis.

The tragic collapse of Surfside’s Champlain Towers South condominium building with resulting loss of life to 98 people is truly heartbreaking.  The loss of life to so many, however, is unparalleled to the egregious circumstances of the collapse.  Spanning more than 40 years, investigators are trying to unpack how a calamity of gross mismanagement, outright deception and lack of oversight were allowed to exist.  Recent news reports have uncovered how the original developer aggressively lobbied building department officials to permit an additional level at the top of the structure, a 13th-story penthouse, after construction was already underway.  Worse yet, the city allowed the builder’s own engineer to inspect the project and sign off on the construction work. Both the architect and structural engineer on the project had run into problems on earlier projects involving insufficient structural loads. Investigators from the National Institute of Standards and Technology are still looking into the structural conditions that led to the collapse.

Our firm is deeply rooted in the Tampa Bay community and throughout Florida. We are a family of 3 brothers doing our level best to protect you and your family.  We prosecute mass tort cases to advocate on behalf of our clients and their loved ones, but also to help build a better world where safety and health are placed in high regard over profits and corporate interests.  That standard is our mission and will never be compromised.

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