Multidistrict litigation is a process used to consolidate complex lawsuits for pretrial proceedings. Unlike a class action lawsuit, each lawsuit in an MDL remains separate. However, early legal actions, such as establishing common facts, are addressed at the same time for all cases in an MDL.
This week's Legal Look explores the recently created JUUL MDL and the first wrongful death lawsuit filed against JUUL, a recent delay in Roundup litigation, California's latest law extending its filing deadline for child sexual abuse cases, and Johnson & Johnson's $8 billion loss in a Risperdal lawsuit.
JUUL Lawsuits Consolidated
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) recently created multidistrict litigation for all federally filed lawsuits against JUUL Labs. The panel transferred 40 cases into the newly established MDL 2913 earlier this month. All cases have been consolidated in the Northern District of California -- where JUUL's headquarters are located. U.S. District Judge William Orrick will preside over the MDL.
MDL 2913 includes personal injury and class action lawsuits. Many of the JUUL lawsuits allege the company targeted minors through the design and marketing of its products. The company has also been accused of downplaying the health risks of nicotine addiction.
Additionally, the first wrongful death lawsuit was filed against JUUL Labs this past Tuesday. The family of David Wakefield filed a lawsuit against the e-cigarette company for marketing its products to minors. Wakefield passed away in August 2018, at the age of 18 from breathing complications allegedly attributed to vaping. The family's lawsuit also alleges the company broke California business laws by marketing its products as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. According to the lawsuit, JUUL e-cigarettes actually release more addictive nicotine than the traditional alternatives.
Roundup Trial Postponed
The latest trial against Bayer and Monsanto's herbicide Roundup has been postponed. Originally planned for October 15, 2019, this trial would have been the first Roundup trial held in St. Louis. This was also the last planned Roundup trial scheduled for the remainder of the year. Bayer will use the rest of the year to appeal three previous Roundup verdicts that went against the company. Ken Feinburg -- a prominent legal mediator -- also continues to work with Bayer on a potential settlement agreement to resolve more than 18,000 lawsuits against the company and its weedkiller.
California Enacts New Abuse Legislation
On Sunday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law, extending the state's statute of limitations for instances of childhood sexual abuse. Previously, the legal deadline to file a child sexual abuse lawsuit ended when the victim turned 26. Under the new law, survivors have until the age of 40 to file a lawsuit against their abuser. The new law also gives adult survivors more time to file. Adult survivors who recently recollected their abuse will now have five years from the time of discovery to file a lawsuit.
Another major measure in the new law -- reminiscent of a provision in New York's Child Victims Act -- is a three-year "look back" window that offers victims of all ages a chance to file a lawsuit against their abuser. The "look back" window will begin on January 1, 2020. California previously enacted a similar measure when the statute of limitations was lifted for a one-year period in 2003. During that one-year time span, the Catholic Church paid more than $1 billion to hundreds of victims of clergy abuse.
If you were a victim of clergy abuse as a child, you may still be able to seek legal action. Talk to our legal partners and submit a free online case review. You can also call our confidential number 1-866-371-8506 at any time.
J&J Loses Risperdal Verdict
A Philadelphia jury awarded $8 billion in punitive damages to the plaintiff of a recent Risperdal lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuit alleges Johnson & Johnson understated the drug's risk of breast development in male patients. The plaintiff, Nicholas Murray, won $680,000 in compensatory damages in March 2016. Johnson & Johnson currently faces tens of thousands of lawsuits against its products, including more than 13,000 Risperdal lawsuits.