Most class action lawyers will tell you 2023 was underwhelming. The 3M earplug settlement was a disappointment. Johnson & Johnson’s unsuccessful attempt to push talc claims into bankruptcy did not catalyze a significant settlement. Frustratingly, the hernia mesh has not advanced to settlement even after the plaintiffs’ wins at trial.
In 2024, we expect more settlements in mass torts. Camp Lejeune, hernia mesh, Roundup, Paraquat, and AFFF are all ripe for settlement in 2024. Let’s talk about what is out there.
PACER MDL Docket Links
|D. South Carolina
|E.D. North Carolina
|E.D. New York
|W.D. North Carolina
|Hernia Mesh (Bard)
|D. New Jersey
Not long ago, Roundup stood as the most widely used lawn and gardening product. However, this changed with the emergence of scientific studies linking the chemical glyphosate in Roundup to cancer.
This revelation triggered a surge in Roundup product liability lawsuits. Between 2018 and 2019, Monsanto/Bayer took three huge Roundup verdicts and began settling large groups of cases to the tune of nearly $11 billion.
Subsequently, Bayer shifted away from settlement strategies, opting to take cases to trial nationwide. Initially successful, Bayer won a string of victories. Did it choose to take the leverage and settle? No. Bayer got greedy and took five verdict in a row late last year, totaling over $2 billion.
If Bayer is not scared now, they are foolish. They would smart to make settlement offers soon, before the next Philadelphia trial starts in January 2024.
The biggest mass tort in recent years is clearly the Camp Lejeune water contamination litigation, There are over 110,000 administrative claims and more than 1,000 civil lawsuits pending. In September 2023, the government introduced an early settlement program for eligible claimants, and the upcoming year may witness the first trials in this litigation.
We have already had a smattering of Camp Lejeune settlements. Legal experts anticipate that 2024 will be marked by substantial settlements in the Camp Lejeune litigation, likely amounting to billions in settlement payouts.
The Paraquat lawsuits assert that prolonged exposure to this industrial herbicide leads to Parkinson’s disease. The Paraquat class action MDL has rapidly burgeoned into one of the fastest-growing mass torts over the past two years. Although the growth rate tapered off towards the close of 2023, the upcoming year, 2024, holds pivotal significance for this litigation.
Currently, nearly 5,000 cases reside within the Paraquat MDL, with a potential addition of another 2,000 cases in 2024. The strength of the Paraquat cases is evident, and the inaugural bellwether trials are anticipated to commence in 2024. This suggests the prospect of an impending Paraquat settlement in 2024, given the severity of Parkinson’s disease. As a result, the settlement payouts in these cases may be substantial.
We will have trial this year. We are still waiting on a Daubert ruling that we anticipate will be a win for plaintiffs. It is pretty easy to argue that Parkinson’s and Paraquat are connected.
The Paragard IUD lawsuits contend that a flaw in the IUD caused the retention arms to fracture inside the body during removal. Housed in the Northern District of Georgia under the oversight of Judge Leigh Martin May, this MDL has been among the slowest-moving mass tort class actions in our observance.
So while we exercise caution in predicting meaningful developments in 2024, the MDL must eventually see progress. Presently, the initial bellwether trials are scheduled for the conclusion of 2024.
Although progress within the MDL has been sluggish, the growth rate in the Paragard MDL has remained consistently robust. Approximately 500 new cases were added in 2023, and this rate of new cases is expected to persist in 2024, bringing the total cases in the MDL to around 2,200.
Lawsuits surrounding AFFF firefighting foam claim that exposure to this substance can lead to specific types of cancer. All federal court cases related to firefighting foam were consolidated into a new AFFF class action MDL situated in the District of South Carolina.
In August 2023, a global settlement deal was announced; however, disappointingly, it only encompassed cases concerning water contamination brought by local counties and water authorities. It did not extend to claims made by individuals who alleged developing cancer due to AFFF exposure.
Presently, there are 6,400 pending cases within the AFFF MDL, although the breakdown between water contamination and individual exposure cases remains unknown.
Speculation abounds following the global settlement of water contamination cases, hinting at the possibility of a global settlement deal for cancer cases. Many AFFF lawyers are expecting a global AFFF settlement in the first half of 2024. But, so far, nothing yet.
Lawsuits involving hernia mesh revolve around allegations that the mesh implants utilized in hernia repair surgeries were defective, resulting in complications and various injuries. The hernia mesh litigation encompasses several MDLs, with the most significant being the C.R. Bard MDL, which now houses over 20,000 pending cases.
Throughout most of 2023, there was minimal activity in the hernia mesh sphere. Recently, a verdict was delivered in the third bellwether trial, with a fourth trial scheduled for January 2024. Another favorable verdict for the plaintiff in this trial could generate substantial momentum for a global settlement in 2024. However, the complication arises from the substantial number of pending cases, presenting challenges in negotiating a global settlement in the hernia mesh lawsuits.
In October 2022, an impactful new study surfaced, revealing a correlation between regular usage of hair relaxer (a product widely used by millions of Black women in the U.S.) and an increased risk of uterine cancer. This revelation promptly initiated a surge of lawsuits regarding hair relaxer-related cancer, swiftly consolidated into a new class action MDL.
The substantial number of African American women in the U.S. who regularly use hair relaxers throughout their adult lives signifies the vast potential plaintiff pool in this case. 2023 witnessed an explosive expansion in the hair relaxer class action, ranking as the most rapidly growing mass tort nationwide during that year. The MDL commenced the year with fewer than 150 pending cases, and it is projected to conclude 2023 with over 9,000 pending cases. This escalating growth trend is expected to persist into 2024.
Suboxone, a medication utilized in treating opioid addiction and dependence, has seen extensive use in recent years. The latest version of Suboxone is in film form, designed to dissolve beneath the tongue. However, these sublingual films result in acute dry mouth, leading to severe tooth decay, tooth loss, and other dental issues. Initially, the manufacturer of Suboxone declined to include a warning about tooth decay on the drug’s product label, despite being well aware of the issue.
Only after the intervention of the FDA, urging the manufacturer to include a warning, did Suboxone’s label incorporate information about tooth decay. Thousands of Suboxone users experienced tooth decay and loss, prompting the initiation of Suboxone tooth decay lawsuits alleging the manufacturer’s negligence in failing to provide adequate warnings.
The consolidation of Suboxone cases into a new class action MDL is imminent. Our firm receives hundreds of calls weekly regarding these cases. Based on the substantial volume of inquiries, it is confidently anticipated that this mass tort will gain significant traction in 2024. The addition of several thousand cases in 2024 is highly plausible given the current trajectory.
The exciting thing about the Suboxone cases? The core of the lawsuit is that the defendants should have warned the plaintiffs of the risks. In 2024, they are warning plaintiffs of the risk. That makes the case a lot easier.
Lawsuits stemming from the CPAP machine recall arose after Philips recalled numerous CPAP and BiPAP devices used to treat sleep apnea. This recall was prompted by the discovery that the sound abatement foam in the machines emitted toxic chemicals, which users subsequently inhaled. As a result, CPAP lawsuits ensued and are continuously being filed.
At the commencement of 2023, the CPAP class action MDL held only 350 pending cases. Currently, the count has escalated to almost 800 pending cases, and the influx of new cases remains on the rise. Projections for 2024 in the CPAP class action anticipate a continuation of the current trend. Given the slower pace of this MDL, significant breakthroughs or major events in CPAP litigation for 2024 aren’t expected. Instead, a substantial increase in pending cases is anticipated.
Talcum powder lawsuits allege that prolonged exposure to talc found in products like baby powder leads to cancer. The talcum powder class action against Johnson & Johnson stands as the second-largest mass tort MDL in the country, boasting 53,311 pending cases as of November 2023.
The year 2024 holds potential for a significant turn in talcum powder litigation as a major global settlement deal from J&J could materialize. Presently, J&J’s settlement offers are perceived as insufficient, offering only $9 billion for over 50,000 cases, falling short of resolution. Simultaneously, talcum powder cases are proceeding to trial, yielding substantial verdicts nationwide, compelling J&J to address and resolve this mounting pressure.
Tepezza, a new prescription drug used for treating thyroid eye disease (TED), has been linked to cases of permanent hearing loss among patients receiving Tepezza injections. Consequently, a growing number of lawsuits have been filed nationwide against the manufacturer for failing to warn about this risk. Recently, federal court Tepezza lawsuits have been consolidated into a new class action MDL. With fewer than 100 pending cases currently, 2024 is expected to witness significant growth in the Tepezza litigation.