As we reach the midpoint of 2023, we get a clearer picture of this year’s major MDLs. This post delves into the hottest, biggest, and most compelling mass torts in 2023.
The Paraquat Parkinson’s lawsuit emerged as a prominent mass tort in the latter half of 2022, and it continues its momentum into 2023. Alleging that chronic exposure to this herbicide leads to Parkinson’s disease, the Paraquat MDL now holds over 4,000 pending cases.
In the past month, the class action MDL received 223 fresh Paraquat lawsuits.
The commencement of the initial paraquat bellwether trial is anticipated in October 2023. The outcomes of this trial are likely to have significant implications for future paraquat lawsuits.
3M Earplug Lawsuit
The 3M earplug class action remains the largest mass tort MDL, with around 254,943 pending cases as of June 16, 2023. It stands six times bigger than the second-largest MDL.
Despite its size, the 3M earplugs MDL faces ongoing legal complexities due to appeals related to the 3M bankruptcy strategy and MDL Judge-imposed sanctions.
The litigation, being the largest consolidated mass tort in U.S. history, will likely continue to dominate well into the future, with both sides offering different perspectives on its growth.
Talcum Powder Lawsuit
The second-largest class action MDL centers around talcum powder and its link to cancer in products like baby powder by Johnson & Johnson. With 37,524 pending cases as of June 2023, this talc class action continues to be a significant legal battle.
Over the past 14 months, new talcum powder lawsuits were put on hold due to J&J’s attempt to involve talc liabilities in bankruptcy. After the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals rejected this strategy, the stay was briefly lifted. Subsequently, J&J’s subsidiary filed a second bankruptcy, which is currently under scrutiny for its legitimacy.
Earlier in July this year, the California state court jury granted $18.8 million to a 24-year-old man who claimed to have developed cancer due to asbestos exposure from Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder. A pivotal milestone in talc litigation following J&J’s attempt to push talcum claims into bankruptcy.
A New Jersey bankruptcy judge rejected Johnson & Johnson’s talc unit’s second attempt at addressing talc injury claims through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The judge ruled that the company didn’t meet the required financial distress standards, leading to the case’s dismissal.
This dismissal gives plaintiffs more leverage in settlement negotiations, and the hope is for J&J to offer more than $8.9 billion to settle these cases.
Hair Relaxer Lawsuit
A groundbreaking NIH study in October revealed risks of uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids linked to chemical hair relaxers. Hair relaxer cancer lawsuits surged, forming a new class action MDL. Millions of African American women are potential plaintiffs due to regular use. The MDL’s cases doubled within months.
Earlier this year, the hair relaxer class action MDL began with only 21 pending cases in the Northern District of Illinois. In just 5 months, the number of pending cases surged to 236.
Last month witnessed the busiest period yet, adding 87 new cases. Unless large groups of plaintiffs opt to remain inactive, we anticipate a significant surge in the number of cases in the MDL moving forward.
Camp Lejeune Lawsuit
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit is a prominent class action for 2023. Since last August, claims and civil lawsuits have surged exponentially.
Approximately 20,000 administrative claims and over 200 civil lawsuits were received by the Navy JAG. For 2023, we can anticipate over 1,000 civil lawsuits to be filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina, as JAG isn’t settling claims during the administrative phase.
All individual case deadlines have been extended until September 1, 2023, while plaintiffs’ counsel and JAG prepare a proposed Global Case Management Order. By extending the deadline, they will be able to focus on proposing a master pleadings process that covers all cases.
There were 693 Camp Lejeune civil cases filed in March, with nearly 200 filed on a single day.
Only 100 cases were filed in April, followed by 96 in May and 43 in June. Meanwhile, the latest reports from JAG indicate that over 65,000 administrative claims have been filed.