Class action lawsuits and mass torts are personal injury cases where a large group of people has been injured by one or more parties. In a class action lawsuit, all injury victims are grouped as one plaintiff, whereas each plaintiff brings a lawsuit against the defendant in a mass tort. Most class actions and mass torts are drugs and product recalls where the company knew there was a risk of harm, but others can be a result of an environmental factor. Here are some examples of each that Illinois (and all U.S.) residents should be aware of.
Zantac and Other Drug Recalls
Zantac is a popular OTC (over-the-counter) medication used to treat and prevent heartburn. However, the antacid was recently recalled because of the active ingredient ranitidine. Ranitidine was shown to contain a carcinogen and the usage of the drug was also shown to cause stomach ulcers. As of April 2020, Zantac was no longer sold in the U.S., but consumers can use the safer alternative Zantac 360 (famotidine) or herbal teas to relieve mild gastrointestinal issues.
Unfortunately, Zantac (the original formula) isn’t the only medication that has been recalled in recent years. Both OTC and prescription medications, such as the blood pressure drug Valsartan, have been recalled due to injuring consumers. Some injuries related to drug recalls include kidney damage, heart attacks, birth defects, vision loss, and wrongful death.
Philips CPAP Machines
In June 2021, a class action lawsuit was filed against Philips alleging that they knew there were serious health risks associated with their CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. CPAP machines are often used by those suffering from sleep apnea to prevent interruptions in breathing during sleep. Pressurized air flows through a tube that’s connected to a mask that attaches over the nose and mouth.
The machines contained polyester-based polyurethane foam that could break down into breathable particles to be inhaled by the user. This and several other harmful chemicals caused severe coughing and wheezing, lung damage, damage to other organs, and even cancer in some cases. Those who already had underlying lung and breathing issues were at the highest risk. The majority of devices from Philips that were recalled were from the first-generation DreamStation product line.
Mesothelioma Lung Cancer
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that forms in the thin layer of tissue that most notably surrounds the lungs, but it also surrounds other organs. Cancer takes a long time to form, but early symptoms include, chest pain, shortness of breath, and a dry cough— which is similar to many other lung conditions. Later symptoms may include fever, weight loss, fatigue, and the sensation of having something lodged in your throat.
The number one cause of mesothelioma cancers is exposure to asbestos, which is a fiber used in various building materials until the 1980s. Some buildings still contain asbestos to this day, but it’s not harmful if the buildings are still in good condition— it only becomes a problem when buildings are torn down or renovated. Those at the highest risk for asbestos exposure are construction workers and related industries.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Water contamination is pretty common in the U.S., with some water sources becoming more severely contaminated than others. This problem is usually spotted and corrected promptly, but this wasn’t the case for the marine corps base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. For nearly 34 years its residents were exposed to contaminated water that later resulted in birth defects, miscarriages, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, scleroderma, and many other medical conditions.
Personal injury attorneys all over the U.S. have been rushing to help those affected by the water contamination, and that includes personal injury attorneys in Chicago and all over Illinois. Not only does this affect soldiers who were stationed there during that time, but also their families and those working on the military base.
Personal injury attorneys can help you with any of these concerns listed above and even those that aren’t listed here. Most personal injury law firms specialize in getting compensation for clients who were injured in any number of ways, including motor vehicle accidents, birth injuries, animal bites, medical malpractice, assisted living abuse and neglect, slip and fall accidents, and even wrongful death. Class Action lawsuits and mass torts also fall under personal injury, as the injury inflicted many people as opposed to just one person. The majority of people know their rights when it comes to injuries inflicted by another individual, but many aren’t aware that they have the same rights when the injury comes from a company or environmental factor.