Legislative & Judicial Updates

The Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022 (“MoCRA”) was signed into law on December 29, 2022. MoCRA expands the authority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) to regulate cosmetics and serves as the most significant change to the regulation of cosmetics since the passage of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act in 1938. MoCRA is a seismic shift in the world of cosmetic regulation, bringing new authorities to the FDA that are similar to those that currently exist for food, drugs and medical devices, among other regulated products. MoCRA has sweeping implications for domestic and international cosmetics manufacturers that market products in the U.S.

On March 9, 2023, a federal judge granted summary judgment on causation to three manufacturers of asbestos-containing products in a maritime lawsuit arising from the death of Thomas Deem from mesothelioma. The judge held that Ms. Deem had failed to put on evidence sufficient to show that Decedent’s exposure to the products manufactured by three defendants—John Crane, Inc. (“JCI”), Crosby Valves, LLC, and the William Powell Company—was a substantial contributing factor to his developing mesothelioma. See Sherri L. Deem v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 17-5965BHS (W.D. Wash. Mar. 9, 2023). 

In a move that further cements Louisiana’s place as the 7th Ranked Judicial Hell Hole of 2023, the Court of Appeals of Louisiana affirmed a second 8-figure verdict of 2023 for a mesothelioma personal injury case in Strauder v. Shell Oil Co., 2023 WL 2009251 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2/15/23). The first affirmation came in Pete v. Boland Marine, 2023 WL 110608 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1/5/23).  Included within the $10.4 million total verdict in Strauder was a $2.75 million award to each of Decedent’s two adult children for wrongful death damages.

We are pleased to announce that Husch Blackwell has published its inaugural “Legal Insights for Manufacturing” report, which provides a look ahead to 2023 and explores the key trends and issues that will shape the coming year for the manufacturing industry.

Overview of Original Daubert Rulings

In orders issued on October 25, 2022 and November 9, 2022, U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Biggs provided some clarification to her prior expert rulings in the matter of Walls v. Ford Motor Company, et al., a mesothelioma wrongful death case pending in the Middle District of North Carolina. The plaintiff, Laura Walls, alleges that her deceased husband, Robie Walls, developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing products through his naval service and career as a truck mechanic. The plaintiff intends to call several experts to offer opinions that the defendants’ products caused the decedent’s disease. The defendants intend to introduce expert testimony that friction products made with chrysotile asbestos did not and could not have caused the alleged injury while asserting that the decedent sustained significant exposure to asbestos during his naval service. The Court took up the parties’ various Daubert challenges over two days of oral argument in June 2022 and made several significant rulings regarding expert admissibility on August 11, 2022 as discussed herein.

The President swore in a new face to the Commission for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on June 30, 2022. Mary T. Boyle, however, is not an entirely new face as she served in various positions within the CPSC for more than a decade. She formerly served in various leadership rules, including CPSC’s Executive Director from 2018 before being confirmed as the new Commissioner. Ms. Boyle also served as CPSC’s Senior Counselor for Policy and Planning, General Counsel, and Deputy General Counsel.

On November 4, 2022, the New York  City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL) coordinating Judge Adam Silvera issued a long-awaited decision denying defendants’ motion to sever punitive damages in asbestos claims filed in NYCAL. Defendants had urged the Court to amend NYCAL’s current Case Management Order (CMO) to indefinitely postpone plaintiffs’ ability to seek punitive damages against defendants, as was the case in the original NYCAL CMO and a procedure that had been in place for over 2 decades up until 2017.

Where a case is filed can sometimes be as important as the facts of the case itself. The Washington Court of Appeals, recently revisited specific jurisdiction in the context of consent in Bradley v. Globus Medical, Inc.

In February 2021, Rachel Bradley filed suit in Spokane County Superior Court against Globus Medical, Inc. alleging

The American Tort Reform Foundation (ATR) published its 2021-2022 Judicial Hellholes Executive Summary. The report highlights the most prominent jurisdictions across the United States known for allowing innovate lawsuits, welcoming litigation tourism, and expanding civil liability.

The 2021-2022 Judicial Hellholes

The ATR’s top judicial hellholes are:

(1) California. “The Golden State” is back in the No. 1 Judicial Hellhole spot due to appellate courts holding e-commerce companies strictly liable for products sold on their sites, “baseless” Prop-65 lawsuits, “frivolous” Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) and American with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims, and the AG promoting an “expansive view” of public nuisance law.

(2) New York. “The Empire State” is right behind California for having one of the worst legal climates in the nation. The ATR notes this is due to New York’s unmatched number of “no-injury” class actions, ADA lawsuits, and immense asbestos litigation docket.