In 2005, Johnson & Johnson, Inc. began selling its transvaginal mesh product without seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The company is now defending class actions and individual lawsuits in both state and federal courts throughout the United States. But Johnson & Johnson’s exposure to liability does not end there; the company now faces class action liability in two other countries. In April 2012, a group of women in Canada filed a class action against Johnson & Johnson alleging that they were not warned about the serious side effects associated with its mesh product. Most recently, in October 2012, a second class action suit was filed against the company in Australia.
Gone are the days when the class action was a uniquely American concept. This change underscores the importance of becoming knowledgeable and advising clients about the growing class action jurisprudence in foreign jurisdictions. This article highlights the expansion of class actions and the impact foreign class action laws have on companies that do business in these jurisdictions.