New Jersey MCL Update: Three New Consolidated Litigations in New Jersey

August was a busy month for multi-county litigation (MCL) in New Jersey: the Supreme Court of New Jersey designated three new MCLs and terminated one in a matter of just three days. Newly added to the MCL docket are the Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh litigation, Zostavax litigation, and Taxotere litigation. Meanwhile, the Pompton Lakes Environmental Contamination litigation has been terminated. Here is a brief update on these four litigations.

On August 13, 2018, the Supreme Court of New Jersey terminated the Pompton Lakes Environmental Contamination litigation. This MCL had been ongoing since September 13, 2010, and concerned 340 plaintiffs seeking relief from defendants E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and/or Royle Systems Group, LLC, “for alleged environmental contamination in the Borough of Pompton Lakes in Passaic County to Bergen County.” The litigation was initially before Judge Brian R. Martinotti, and was reassigned to Judge Rachelle L. Harz in 2016. Termination of the MCL followed settlement of various plaintiffs’ claims and dismissal of others between October 2011 and January 2018, in addition to a summary judgment win for defendants on August 17, 2015.

On August 15, 2018, the Supreme Court of New Jersey approved applications for three new consolidated litigations.

First, the Court approved an application to consolidate approximately 353 cases brought in New Jersey to date regarding Taxotere. The cases involve claims by women who allege they have suffered permanent hair loss “and other disfigurement” as a result of using Taxotere, which is a chemotherapy used to treat breast cancer. Judge James F. Hyland is to preside over the litigation in Middlesex County. The federal MDL for the Taxotere litigation has been pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana since October 5, 2016.  There are just over 9,000 cases in the federal litigation and the first bellwether trial is set for January 2019.

On the same date, the Supreme Court of New Jersey approved an application for an MCL in the Zostavax litigation, which is also set to be before Judge Hyland in Middlesex County. There are currently some 800 cases filed in New Jersey. Plaintiffs allege that the Zostavax vaccine, which is given to patients over the age of 50 to prevent shingles, caused plaintiffs to develop shingles and other viral-related injuries. An MDL of 43 cases was also recently consolidated in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on August 2, 2018, before Judge Harvey Bartle III.  The number of cases has more than doubled in the past month, bringing the total cases to date close to 100 in this new MDL.

Finally, also on August 15, 2018, the Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh litigation was consolidated before Judge Nelson C. Johnson in Atlantic County. The plaintiffs are alleging that the hernia mesh can lead to complications when implanted. This MCL consolidates 62 cases currently pending in New Jersey.

With these new litigations, there are now 23 active multi-county consolidated actions in New Jersey across three counties.