Louisiana and New Jersey Lead in Legal Action Against Health Care and Pharmaceutical Companies

Legal action against health care and pharmaceutical companies in federal courts has sharply increased over the last five years, and in particular since late 2017. The latest available data from the federal courts on personal injury suits against health care and pharmaceutical companies show that levels of civil filings across the country remain elevated, although have dropped off from their peak in April 2018. During July 2018 there were 1,738 new lawsuits filed against health care and pharmaceutical companies. While there is variation in number of filings on a monthly basis, overall, civil filings against health care and pharmaceutical companies have increased by nearly three-fold (282 percent) since July 2013.

Figure 1. Health Care/Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability
Civil Filings January 2013 - July 2018
(Click for larger image)

Figure 1 shows the long-term trend over the past five years. Louisiana's Eastern District and New Jersey alone comprise more than half of civil filings in months where civil filings sharply increase, including June 2016, and October 2017 - April 2018. As shown in Figure 1, litigation peaked in April 2018 with 5,077 lawsuits filed nationwide. Prior to 2013, civil filings in these matters numbered less than 500 each month.

The two largest spikes in civil filings occurred in Oct-Dec 2017, and then again in April 2018. In both cases, the Eastern District of Louisiana and New Jersey accounted for the largest number of lawsuits, far outstripping any other federal districts. According to court records, litigation against pharmaceutical companies producing Taxotere (Docetaxel) products — a chemotherapy drug — and Xarelto (Rivaroxaban) products — blood thinners to treat clots — drove the increase in civil filings in Louisiana since 2016. The multi-district litigation suit arising out of action on Taxotere products now encompasses 9,357 lawsuits in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Action on Xarelto products numbers above 23,709 lawsuits as of August 15, 2018[1].

Litigation against producers of talcum powder, especially Johnson & Johnson, was a key driver in the rise in New Jersey litigation in 2018, according to court complaints reviewed by TRAC. Multi-district litigation against Johnson & Johnson located in New Jersey now includes 8,725 lawsuits.

Most other districts maintained a consistently low rate of filing against health care and pharmaceutical companies, with only a slight increase on average over the past five years.


[1] For all numbers relating to multi-district litigation, see here: http://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/sites/jpml/files/Pending_MDL_Dockets_By_District-August-15-2018.pdf

Each month, TRAC offers a free report focused on one area of civil litigation in the U.S. district courts. In addition, subscribers to the TRACFed data service can generate custom reports by district, office, nature of suit or federal jurisdiction via the TRAC Data Interpreter.