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October 28, 2019

CASE UPDATE: JUUL Litigation Judge Requests Census of Cases

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal JUUL addiction and injury cases ordered for a census of all cases currently field in the courts to help determine pretrial leadership positions.

In recent weeks increasing numbers of product liability lawsuits have been filed against JUUL, manufacturers of the controversial e-cigarettes and pods taking over the news. Young adults and parents of injured teenagers are all raising similar claims that JUUL Labs not only marketed their products towards minors but failed to warn that JUUL pods are dangerously addictive and stronger than traditional cigarettes.

In response to the growing number of lawsuits, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered for all federal JUUL cases to be centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of California, which is where JUUL Labs has its San Francisco headquarters. Soon after, Judge William H. Orrick III, presiding judge over the JUUL litigation, requested for attorneys to apply for leadership positions in the MDL to coordinate pretrial actions.

To help with the process of selecting JUUL lawyers for leadership positions, on October 25 Judge Orrick issued a case management order requesting for a census of all JUUL cases. Judge Orrick says that a census will help him decide who to elect for the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee, Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, and other leadership positions within the litigation. He also indicates that a census will help him determine how to manage the litigation in these early stages.

The order directs plaintiffs and defense attorneys to discuss the details of census in preparation for a more in-depth discussion during the next status conference on November 8.  At the end of these pretrial proceedings, if a JUUL settlement cannot be reach between both parties, each of the cases in the JUUL litigation may be remanded back to the district courts they were originally filed in for future individual trial dates.

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