July 17, 2024

Obligate Law

Professional Law Makers

Most Active Class Action Mass Torts in 2024

13 min read
Most Active Class Action Mass Torts in 2024

Our firm’s national mass tort lawyers attorneys continuously monitor and track events in the various class action MDLs pending in the federal courts (MDL Docket #s). We track the volume of new cases being filed or transferred into each MDL every month, the trends or patterns in new case filings, and the status of bellwether trials, discovery, and other proceedings.  And, of course, we track mass tort settlement amounts.

With a new year, we are starting to get a clearer picture of what we can expect in 2024 from the various mass tort MDLs including those ready to grow and those ready to settle.

This post examines the hottest, biggest, and most compelling mass torts in 2024.  We also project these many mass tort settlement amounts if you click the individual links.

The Biggest Class Action MDLs in 2024

The list of the biggest mass tort MDLs (by number of pending cases or claims) in 2024 will still be the same as last year, with the three mass torts below overshadowing all the rest.

#1 Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

Yes, it is technically not an MDL class action.  But Camp Lejeune dominated the mass tort legal landscape in 2023, and it looks like 2024 will be very similar. The Eastern District of North Carolina has created a mini-MDL, which will be the epicenter of the mass tort world in 2024.

In January 2024, we have over 150,000 administratively filed cases are under the CLJA. (There have been only 13 settlements.)   So it is less than half the size of the 3M lawsuit.  But in terms of expected settlement amounts, nothing compares to Camp Lejeune.  Our lawyers expect that 2024 will be a year of significant settlements in the Camp Lejeune litigation, especially considering that the DOJ launched the CLJA early settlement program in September.

The best cases have a good chance at  settlements – albeit low offers – and you saw that with the most recent settlement offer from the government.  But there will also be many cases where there is a huge fight over general causation on specific types of cancer.  So this litigation will drag on for years for many victims.

#2 Talcum Powder Lawsuit

The second biggest class action MDL is still the talcum powder class action against Johnson & Johnson. These cases allege that chronic exposure to talc in products such as baby powder caused cancer. As of January 2024, there are 50,000 pending cases in the talc class action MDL.

The reality of this litigation is that J&J wants to pay $9 million to resolve the cases.  The per-person settlement amounts at this number is not enough to settle these lawsuits.  Everyone realizes this, including J&J.  So they need to put more money into the pot to convince enough plaintiffs to opt into a global settlement.

In the meantime, after taking an $18.9 million verdict in one case this year, J&J is settling cases that are up for trial, hoping for some breathing room to craft a workable settlement.  One thing I’m confident in: J&J never takes another mesotheloma talc powder verdict.  It has learned the hard way it in not winning meso cases.

The risk in trying get every last drop our of J&J to maximize talc settlement amounts is J&J tries its third bankruptcy gambit.  It will fail.  But it has the potential to slow things down. These victims… they have had enough and they at least want a settlement offer to make a choice.

#3 C.R. Bard Hernia Mesh Lawsuit

The C.R. Bard Hernia Mesh MDL is the largest of several mass tort MDLs involving defective hernia mesh patches made by various companies. As of January 2024, there were over 20,000 plaintiffs with pending cases in the C.R. Bard Hernia Mesh MDL. Hundreds of new hernia mesh lawsuits have been transferred into this MDL over the last six months, making it one of the more active mass torts.

Could 2024 be the year we see a global settlement in this mass tort?  It looks very promising.  The third bellwether trial led to a $500,000 verdict in November 2023.  The plaintiffs keep winning.  We are still hopeful that a settlement will get done soon.  But, to be honest, we have been saying this for a while.  And this litigation has gone on and on (and on).

The real game changer would be a punitive damage award.

MDLs to Watch

#1 Paraquat Parkinson’s Lawsuit

The Paraquat class action MDL was one of the hottest mass torts in 2023 it terms of growth and 2024 could be a big year.  The Paraquat cases allege that chronic exposure to this industrial herbicide causes Parkinson’s disease. The litigation is small but the size of the injury – Parkinson’s disease is truly awful – is great.

There are 5,000 pending cases in the Paraquat MDL. The Paraquat cases are strong and a trial is coming up assuming, as we do, the judge allows these cases to move forward.  So a Paraquat settlement could be on the horizon assuming the judge decides the science linking Parkinson’s and Paraquat is sufficient.  It is hard to imagine that the defendants would let one of these cases go to trial.

Parkinson’s disease is a brutal condition.  So the settlement payouts in these cases could be very high. I do not think the defendants will let these cases go to trial.  So if the defendants do not get out on Daubert – and all indications are they will not – my guess is that these cases settle before the end of year. How will they settle?  I think the defendants will go the Roundup route and settle by individual plaintiffs’ law firms. But that is pure speculation.

#2 Paragard IUD Lawsuit

The Paragard lawsuits allege that the Paragard IUD device had a design defect that caused it to fracture during removal, leaving pieces inside the body. As of November 2023, the Paragard class action MDL has a little over 2,283 pending cases. Last year, this mass tort posted steady and reliable growth of around 50-80 new cases per month.

The growth trend in the Paragard MDL has continued very reliably so far in 2023. Around 500 new Paragard lawsuits have been added to the MDL since the start of the year. Moreover, adverse medical device event reporting data from the FDA suggests that the number of fractures during removal of the Paragard device remains very high.

The litigation is moving slowly so we do not expect settlements anytime soon. However, the first round of bellwether trials will not begin until (probably) early 2025.

#3 Tepezza Hearing Loss Lawsuit

Tepezza is a new prescription drug that is taken in a series of injections to treat thyroid eye disease (TED). Soon after Tepezza was released on the U.S. market, reports started coming back that a high percentage of patients who received Tepezza injections were suffering permanent hearing loss.

Additional scientific research eventually established that the hearing damage was a side effect of Tepezza and it was often permanent. Moreover, the manufacturer of Tepezza failed to disclose the true risk of this side effect.

Anyone who suffered permanent hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) after receiving Tepezza injections may be eligible to file a lawsuit and get financial compensation. A growing number of Tepezza lawsuits have been filed across the country, and the Tepezza lawsuits in federal courts have recently been consolidated into a new class action MDL.

#4 Bard PowerPort Lawsuit

The Bard PowerPort is a port catheter medical device that is implanted under a patient’s skin to give doctors direct access to veins for regular and convenient attachment to catheters for fluid and medication delivery intravenously. Design and manufacturing flaws in the Bard PowerPort have made this device highly prone to fracture and/or migrate after being implanted. These events usually result in serious complications and injuries including infection and internal vascular damage.

Patients who received a Bard PowerPort implant device and suffered serious injuries when the PowerPort fractured or migrated after implantation can file a product liability lawsuit and seek compensation. A growing volume of Bard PowerPort lawsuits have already been filed in federal courts around the U.S.

In August 2023, a new Bard PowerPort class action MDL was created when the cases were consolidated before a single judge. This could potentially be one of the next big mass tort MDLs so we will be keeping a close eye on things.

This is not huge litigation – we less than 70 lawsuit in January 2024.  But lawyers really like these cases.  We love these cases and we wish we had more of them.

#5 Roundup Cancer Lawsuit

Roundup was once the most popular consumer weedkiller product on the market. But recent evidence linking the chemical in Roundup (glyphosate) to cancer prompted a flood of Roundup product liability lawsuits. After a series of massive verdicts in 2018-2019, Monsanto (Bayer) started settling large blocks of cases.

Bayer won 10 in a row with the remaining cases. Smoke and mirrors were invovled.  Bayer was settling the best cases and letting the weaker cases go to trial.  One was so awful it was dismissed in the middle of the trial.

But Bayer got overconfident. It started believing its own press clipping and forgot it won-loss record was because they were scheduling the weakest cases for trial.  Then it lost five cases in a row, losing over $2 billion in the process.  Now it has its back against the wall with a healthy trials schedule in 2024.  I think Bayer will settle these cases in 2024 and it will be for a lot more than they could have settled them for in 2023.

Class Actions Most Likely to Settle in 2024

Based on what our lawyers have been hearing, there seem to be two mass tort MDLs that are most likely to get resolved with global settlements in 2024.

#1: AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuit

The AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits allege that exposure to so-called forever chemicals in AFFF firefighting foam (used to put out large fires) caused countless firefighters and military veterans to develop cancer. There are now 6,400 AFFF cancer lawsuits pending in the firefighting foam class action as of November 2023.

There is widespread speculation that a global settlement deal could be in the works for the AFFF lawsuits.  The defendants have already settled most cases brought by municipalities.  So a global AFFF settlement makes sense and it could happen in 2024. We think these are really strong cases.

Class Actions Ready to Grow in 2024

The class action MDLs in this section are those that are ready to post explosive growth as 2024 continues because of the size of the potential plaintiff field or other circumstances.

#1: CPAP Recall Lawsuit

In 2021, Philips recalled millions of CPAP and BiPAP devices after it was discovered that users were inhaling toxic foam particles released by the devices. This set the stage for a potentially massive class action lawsuit with hundreds of thousands of potential plaintiffs. The number of active cases in the Philips CPAP class action MDL remained low for the first 18 months, however, because Philips established a claims registry system that allowed potential plaintiffs to save their claims without filing suit.

The claims registry program is now closed, which means that potential CPAP plaintiffs will need to start filing their cases or risk losing their claims entirely. This means that 2024 will likely be a major growth year for the CPAP class action. We saw the volume of new CPAP cases increase over the last half of 2023.

The negligence case against Philips is extremely strong and punitive damages will be in play in many jurisdictions.   These cases will boil down to which conditions can be caused by the clearly defective CPAP.  Many of these respiratory cases seem like slam dunks.    The cancer cases will be decided cancer by cancer based on the strength of the science and the expert testimony linking specific conditions to CPAP.

What are the best cases?  Lung cancer and cancer from the neck and above in the greatest proximity to the chemicals are likely to be the best cases.  We also like asthma, COPD, pneumonitis, sarcodosis and pulmonary fibrosis cases although there will be a Daubert battle on some of those if it gets that far.

What about lung cancer, liver cancer and kidney cancer?  We will see how strong those cases are if we get to that point in the MDL.  It may just be these cases settle, probably for less than the cases listed above.

Am I sure of that analysis?  No.  This is what I think.

#2: Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

In October of 2022, a groundbreaking study from NIH was published showing that regularly use of chemical hair relaxer products could significantly increase the risk of uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and other conditions such as endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. This immediately prompted a wave of hair relaxer cancer lawsuits that were promptly consolidated into a new class action MDL.

The size of the potential plaintiff field for the hair relaxer class action litigation is massive. Millions of African American women in the U.S. use hair relaxers on a regular basis their entire adult life. That means that almost every black woman diagnosed with uterine or ovarian cancer is a potential plaintiff.

Even after just a few months, this litigation has already started to show signs of rapid growth this year. In January 2024, we had over 8,000 cases. At the start of the summer, there were less than 150 pending cases. That makes this the fastest growing MDL in 2023 and that will almost certainly continue into 2024.

#3 Hernia Mesh Lawsuit (non-Bard)

A hernia mesh is a small screen-like implant that is used to reinforce muscle and tissue after a hernia repair surgery. A number of different permanent hernia mesh products have design flaws related to the material they are made out of that has caused them to malfunction resulting in post-implantation complications and injuries.

This has led to a large wave of hernia mesh lawsuits that have been consolidated into several different class action MDLs. The biggest hernia mesh MDL is that involving claims against medical device company C.R. Bard. This MDL is in the Southern District of Ohio and it has over 20,000 pending cases that we talk about above. But there are many smaller MDLs that may grow – and hopefully, settle quickly – especially when the Bard cases finally settle to help set a settlement benchmark.

New Class Action MDLs

Below are two new mass torts that are on their way to becoming class actions and being consolidated into MDLs. We don’t have MDLs for either of these yet, but that should happen within the next few months.

Suboxone Tooth Decay Lawsuit

Suboxone is a drug that is used to treat opioid addiction and dependency. Suboxone is administered in a sublingual (under the tongue) insert that dissolves in the mouth.

Unfortunately, Suboxone causes dry mouth and severe tooth decay. The manufacturers of Suboxone were well aware of this fact for years, but refused to include a warning about tooth decay on the drug’s product label.

It was only after the FDA issued a public safety warning about Suboxone tooth decay that a warning label was added. Now thousands of people who used the drug and suffered tooth decay or dental injuries are expected to file Suboxone tooth decay lawsuits.

There is now an MDL class action lawsuit.  This will be really big litigation

Ozempic Gallbladder Lawsuit

Ozempic is a very popular diabetes drug, and recently it has been widely used as a weight loss drug. Recent evidence has shown, however, that using Ozempic at high doses (which is common for weight loss) can cause serious problems with the gallbladder including gallstones and gallbladder disease. Individuals who used Ozempic and suffered gallbladder injuries are now filing Ozempic lawsuits against the drug.

This will be litigation where there are plaintiffs who have a lot of damages.  But there will also be a lot of more minor injury cases where the victim had real complications but only for a limited period of time and they are perfectly fine now. So putting a settlement amount on those cases will be a challenge.

There is one wild card here that will drive settlement payouts in plaintiffs favor.  These companies are printing money with these new obesity fighting drugs.  This litigation is a distraction they will want to rid themselves of as soon as feasible.

MDLs On Life Support

Tylenol Autism

There was a centralized class action lawsuit in New York targeting Tylenol that consolidates all federal acetaminophen-related cases. The gist of these lawsuits is that there is a link between Tylenol and other acetaminophen products and disorders like Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (“Autism”).  The science supporting this link was thought to be strong.

One person disagreed with that opinion.  She was the only person that matters.  The MDL judge dismissed all 500 cases in the MDL. Still, there are hundreds of thousands more and lawyers will begin filing Tylenol lawsuits in state courts around the country.

So life support is probably too strong of a term.  But these are tough cases as are the baby food autism lawsuits.

Dockets for Class Action MDLs

Largest MDL in March 2024

Location Judge MDL Number Description Case Count (FLN) Case Count (NJ)
FLN M. Casey Rodgers (U.S. District Judge) MDL-2885 IN RE: 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation (settling) 276,568 391,365
NJ Michael A. Shipp (U.S. District Judge) MDL-2738 IN RE: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation 53,796 54,923
OHS Edmund A. Sargus, Jr (U.S. District Judge) MDL-2846 IN RE: Davol, Inc./C.R. Bard, Inc., Polypropylene Hernia Mesh Products Liability Litigation 21,262 22,020
FLS Robin L. Rosenberg (U.S. District Judge) MDL-2924 IN RE: Zantac (Ranitidine) (cases dismissed pending appeal) 14,392 14,998
NJ Claire C. Cecchi (U.S. District Judge) MDL-2789 IN RE: Proton-Pump Inhibitor (PPI) (No. II) 12,819 18,668
LAE Jane Triche Milazzo (U.S. District Judge) MDL-2740 IN RE: Taxotere (Docetaxel) 9,600 15,587
ILN Mary M. Rowland (U.S. District Judge) MDL-3060 IN RE: Hair Relaxer Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation 8,334 8,537
INS Richard L. Young (U.S. District Judge) MDL-2570 IN RE: Cook Medical, Inc., IVC Filters Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation 7,693 11,352
SC Richard M. Gergel (U.S. District Judge) MDL-2873 IN RE: Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Products (AFFF and PFAS) 7,170 7,367
MN Joan N. Ericksen (Sr. District Judge) MDL-2666 IN RE: Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Devices 6,248 7,160
ILS Nancy J. Rosenstengel (Chief Judge, USDC) MDL-3004 IN RE: Paraquat 5,318 5,984
CAN William H. Orrick, III (U.S. District Judge) MDL-2913 IN RE: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation 5,108 7,068
CA Vince Chhabria (U.S. District Judge) MDL-2741 IN RE: Roundup Products Liability Litigation 4,253 4,800
OHN Dan A. Polster (Sr. District Judge) MDL-2804 IN RE: National Prescription Opiate Litigation 3,056 3,227
NH Landya B. McCafferty (Chief Judge, USDC) MDL-2753 IN RE: Atrium Medical Corp. C-Qur Mesh 2,697 3,547
GAN Leigh Martin May (U.S. District Judge) MDL-2974 IN RE: Paragard IUD 2,570 2,647
NJ Brian R. Martinotti (U.S. District Judge) MDL-2973 IN RE: Elmiron (Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium) 1,865 1,982
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