ATRA supports the SAFE TO WORK Act as part of the Senate’s HEALS Act legislative package for coronavirus relief.
ATRA Critical of California High Court’s ‘Latest Gift to Plaintiffs’ Bar’
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 22, 2017 – The American Tort Reform Association is criticizing yesterday’s California Supreme Court decision to allow an “innovator liability” claim to proceed to trial as “both […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 22, 2017 – The American Tort Reform Association is criticizing yesterday’s California Supreme Court decision to allow an “innovator liability” claim to proceed to trial as “both an outlier and the court’s latest gift to the personal injury bar” just before Christmas.
“Crafted primarily by personal injury lawyers desperate to get around longstanding federal law that shields generic drugmakers from lawsuits over the substance of their medications’ warning labels,” explained ATRA president Tiger Joyce, “the novel theory of innovator liability effectively seeks to turn products liability law on its head.
“Fortunately, the argument that original brand-name drugmakers should be held liable for injuries allegedly arising from generic drugs manufactured, marketed and sold by third-party generic drugmakers has been widely rejected by courts across the country.
“But as the latest edition of ATRA’s annual Judicial Hellholes report makes clear, California’s plaintiff-friendly civil courts rank as the second most unfair in the nation for good reason,” Joyce continued. “And the state high court’s embrace of innovator liability in T.H. v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation will only worsen that reputation.”
Joyce noted that, initially, the case had been “reasonably dismissed” by San Diego County Superior Court Judge Joan M. Lewis who concluded that the plaintiffs’ claim, seeking to hold Novartis liable for injuries they suffered in utero after their mother was prescribed a generic asthma medication six years after Novartis had ceased manufacturing its brand-name version and sold its interest in the drug, was precluded by precedent.
But Judge Lewis was unanimously reversed in March 2016 by a three judge appellate panel that remanded the case for trial and invited the plaintiffs to amend their complaint. That appellate decision was upheld by the high court yesterday, and the case can now proceed to trial.
“At least 35 different courts, including six federal courts and eight different state courts, have rejected innovator liability, recognizing both the inherent injustice of subjecting brand-name manufacturers to unpredictable and potentially immense liability for products they did not make or sell, and the likely negative impact on future investments in innovative, often life-improving and life-saving medicines and devices.
“It’s too soon to know if the defendant will appeal this California Supreme Court decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. But if it does, ATRA and its members certainly hope the highest court will hear arguments and definitively clarify the law,” Joyce concluded.
The American Tort Reform Association, based in Washington, D.C., is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to tort and liability reform through public education and the enactment of legislation. Its members include nonprofit organizations and small and large companies, as well as trade, business and professional associations from the state and national level. The American Tort Reform Foundation is a sister organization dedicated primarily to research and public education.
ATRA President Tiger Joyce writes about the American Law Institute’s diversion from its original mission in this opinion editorial for Law360.
ATRA President says COVID-19 statutes reflect a broader perspective than lawsuit shields as they are enacted by lawmakers, not just a single governor.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed into law reforms to the state’s punitive damages system, writes John Breslin for the St. Louis Record.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed S.B. 591 to amend Missouri’s consumer protection act and the state’s punitive damages system.
Federal Judge William Shubb ruled that due to insufficient evidence, California cannot require glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup to be labeled as “known to the state of California to cause cancer.”
ATRA cited in an opinion editorial by John DeMaggio for The Hill regarding potential lawsuit abuse in the wake of COVID-19.
ATRA thanks Gov. Kim Reynolds for signing and the Iowa legislature for passing S.F. 2338, providing COVID-19 liability protections and reforming phantom damages in Iowa.
ATRA urges the Pennsylvania legislature to enact liability protections for critical industries like healthcare providers, PPE manufacturers and small businesses.
ATRA encourages the Louisiana State Senate to pass and Gov. John Bel Edwards to sign H.B. 57 to help reduce auto insurance rates.