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Top 10 Civil Justice Stories of 2016, Part Two

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We have reached the top five civil justice stories of 2016.  Author-attorney Richard N. (Rick) Shapiro has taken on the arduous task of compiling this top-10 list for 2016.

This is part 2 of a 2-part 2016 top ten civil justice stories series.  Click here for Part 1 of the top ten civil justice stories of 2016.

 

  1. Johnson & Johnson (J & J) Held Liable for Failing to Warn Women About Ovarian Cancer Risks of its Talc Baby Powder Products; Multiple Large Verdicts Returned During 2016

JnjWhy It’s Big

The total damages paid out by J&J could reach the billions when it is all said and done. A jury in St. Louis awarded 70 million dollars to a woman stricken with ovarian cancer after using J&J baby powder products for years. Two other lawsuits in St. Louis ended in jury verdicts worth 127 million dollars. Thousands of additional lawsuits are pending against J & J.

What Did We Learn?

J & J talc containing baby powder is pure as the driven snow, right?  Wrong.  In fact, at least three juries slammed J & J for its dubious tactics and the suppression of information relating to its talc products and the risk of developing ovarian cancer, especially for any women that used baby powder as a drying agent on their genitals, or inside their undergarments.  Studies dating back to the 1970s showed a disturbing link between talcum powder use in the area of the female genitalia and ovarian cancer. In fact, case studies have shown that women who regularly used talc powder products (e.g., J & J baby powder and Shower-to-Shower, another similar product sold by J & J for decades) are at a forty percent higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Dig Deeper

Jury awards more than $70 million to woman in baby powder lawsuit (CNBC)

 

  1. Hulk Hogan Receives $140 Million Jury Award in Privacy Invasion Lawsuit Against Gawker

Why It’s Big

This is one of the largest verdicts ever rendered in an invasion of privacy case. In an age where everyone has a camera on their cellphones and people questioning the concept of “privacy,” it is somewhat surprising to see a verdict of such size against a prominent internet media outlet.  

What Did We Learn?

Do not upset Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal and co-owner of Facebook). News reports indicate that Thiel helped fund the lawsuit brought by Hogan against Gawker as retribution for Gawker publishing details about Thiel’s personal life.  Hell hath no fury like a media mogul scorned.

Dig Deeper

Judge Upholds Hulk Hogan’s $140 Million Verdict Against Gawker (Fortune)

 

  1. Rolling Stone Held Liable in Defamation Lawsuit; Ordered to Pay $3 Million in Damages

Why It’s Big

The reputation of Rolling Stone has been in shambles since it published a now-debunked piece concerning an alleged gang rape that allegedly occurred at the campus of University of Virginia. Now, it’s bank account is also in shambles after a Charlottesville jury awarded 3 million dollars in damages to a UVA administrator claiming she was defamed by the infamous article.

What Did We Learn?

Double and triple checking sources is absolutely critical for a news publication. The reporter who wrote the inaccurate story is personally liable for $2 million of the jury’s verdict. Rolling Stone commissioned a study by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to determine what went wrong. The report from Columbia was damning. It concluded a systematic failure occurred and it involved basically every level of Rolling Stone’s newsroom. The report highlighted the fact that this entire debacle could have been avoided. Nevertheless, several paths were not taken; paths that may have caused Rolling Stone to pause and re-consider whether the story had merit.

Dig Deeper

Jurors Award $3 Million In Damages In Defamation Suit Against Rolling Stone (NPR)

 

  1. J & J Ordered to Pay $1 Billion for Faulty Hip Implants

Why It’s Big

J & J probably cannot wait for 2016 to be over. It has been held liable in a myriad of lawsuits, many of which are featured on this list (e.g. talc baby powder products; talc, asbestos and mesothelioma).  Six of the seven largest product-defect verdicts in the U.S. this year have been against J & J.  The company now has a reputation of being a repeat purveyor of either dangerous or highly toxic products.

What Did We Learn?

This verdict involves faulty hip implant products sold by J & J’s Depuy unit. The suit involved Depuy Pinnacle hip replacement devices. The plaintiffs alleged that the Pinnacle devices leached cobalt and chromium material into their bloodstreams leading to device failures and additional surgeries to remove the defective hip device. The plaintiffs also alleged that J&J officials knew the metal-on-metal design would cause these types of serious injuries but pushed ahead with releasing the hip replacement product in order to generate billions in sales. This may be why the jury verdict includes over $1 billion in punitive damages, also known as punishment damages. The punitive damages award is actually the largest against a company in 2016.

Dig Deeper

J&J Ordered to Pay Record $1 Billion for Faulty Hip Implants (Bloomberg)

 

  1. President-elect Agrees to Settle Trump University Fraud Cases for $25 Million

djtWhy It’s Big

The 25-million-dollar settlement eliminates the possibility that President-elect Trump will be called to testify in court during his presidential transition.  One of the wiser decisions Donald Trump has made, touching on his business. The settlement includes a 1-million-dollar penalty paid to New York state for violating the state’s education laws by calling the program a “university” despite offering no degrees or traditional education. Yes, the next President of the United States was the architect of a fake university that defrauded numerous students out of thousands of hard-earned dollars. Face palm America.

What Did We Learn?

President-elect Trump talked extensively about (almost) never settling lawsuits. Turns out that was all just talk (hmmm, no further comment).

Dig Deeper

Trump agrees to $25 million settlement in Trump University fraud cases (Washington Post)

 

About the Author

Virginia Beach, VA Attorney Richard (Rick) Shapiro frequently blogs at Virginia Beach Legal Examiner and he wrote the international award winning fiction thriller Taming The Telomeres. In addition to being a published, award-winning author, he is a prolific American inventor/product designer.