Federal Panel Consolidates Juul Lawsuits in California
With each passing day, we learn of new reports of people developing vaping-related illnesses. Health officials still cannot identify the exact cause of the problem, but one thing is clear: More and more people are confronting the fact that e-cigarettes are not as safe as advertised by their manufacturers.
Juul Faces at Least Six Class Actions Over E-cigarette Marketing Practices
As lawsuits against key manufacturers such as Juul Labs, Inc., continue to mount, the legal system is figuring out the best way to handle these claims. On October 2, 2019, a federal judicial panel approved the creation of a multi-district litigation (MDL) proceeding, which will consolidate at least 10 lawsuits pending against Juul. Other claims will likely be added to the MDL later.
An MDL is not the same thing as a class action. With a class action, a “representative” plaintiff or group of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit on behalf of all similarly situated individuals. An MDL, in contrast, involves transferring multiple lawsuits involving the same defendants and legal issues to the same court. This allows a single judge to manage all of the cases simultaneously and enables the parties to consolidate matters like pretrial discovery and requests for rulings on the admissibility of key evidence.
Here, Juul requested the MDL to consolidate the 10 lawsuits before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, where 4 of the cases were filed. In its motion to consolidate, Juul noted that six of the individual lawsuits sought class action certification. Juul said it would oppose certification in all cases, arguing that the six complaints “failed to identify any cognizable theory of liability or damages” and that it made sense to handle the certification proceedings “in a coordinated manner in a single MDL proceeding.”
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation agreed that an MDL was justified. The Panel did not comment on the merits of any of the lawsuits or the question of class certification. Rather, it confined its inquiry to whether “common questions of fact” and judicial convenience justified consolidation. The Panel said that it did, and assigning the MDL to the Northern District of California made sense, given that is where Juul is based and the judge overseeing the lawsuits already before that court has experienced in MDL proceedings.
Contact a Tennessee Dangerous Drugs Lawyer Today
Again, it is important to emphasize that an MDL is not a class action. This means the creation of the MDL does not prohibit other plaintiffs from coming forward and filing their own Juul-related lawsuits. And in fact, as the cases of Juul-related illnesses continue to mount, there is every reason to believe there will be more plaintiffs seeking compensation.
If you or someone in your family has been harmed after using Juul or other vaping products, it is in your best interest to seek advice from a qualified Knoxville dangerous drug and defective medical device lawyer who can review your situation and advise you on the appropriate course of action. Contact Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC, today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.