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TORT: FEDERAL JUUL E-CIGARETTE PRODUCTS LIABILITY CASES HAVE BEEN CENTRALIZED IN CALIFORNIA

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The Federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) entered an order on October 6, 2019 which centralized all federal cases filed against JUUL Labs Inc. (“JUUL”), related to its marketing practices and products liability claims stemming from use of their products. Over 50 pending lawsuits filed against JUUL from across the country will be sent to U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick III of the Northern District of California.

On October 2, 2019, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (the “Panel”) took oral arguments from attorneys involved in over 50 lawsuits filed against JUUL to determine whether to centralize the cases at a single location. The request was made by JUUL but was joined by a number of the plaintiff’s as well. In fact, the Panel noted that all of the respondents expressed support for centralization of all related action single one MDL. There was disagreement, however, as to venue. Suggested districted included the Northern District of California, Eastern District of Louisiana, the District of Maryland, and the District of New Jersey.

In its order, the Panel reasoned that the pending actions involve common questions of fact and that centralization of all actions would serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses. Specifically, the Panel noted there was commonality with the development, manufacture, labeling, and marketing of JUUL products, and the alleged risks posed by use of those products. The Panel further reasoned that centralization would eliminate duplicative discovery and inconsistent rulings on evidentiary and procedural questions, such as expert challenges and class certification.

The Panel selected the Northern District of California as the best forum to hear these cases because JUUL is headquartered in that district and most of the key evidence and witnesses are located within the same. Judge William H. Orrick III was selected to preside over the MDL due to his experience with a few of JUUL cases pending before his court prior to centralization.

From a procedural standpoint, the JUUL MDL will be governed similar to the MDLs formed in Roundup Cancer litigation.

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