The national mass tort lawyers attorneys at our firm continuously monitor and track events in the various class action MDLs pending in the federal courts. We track the volume of new cases being filed or transferred into each of the MDLs on a monthly basis, the trends or patterns in new case filings, and the status of bellwether trials, discovery and other proceedings.
Now that were are 3 months into 2023, we are starting to get a clearer picture of what we can expect this year from the various MDLs. In this post we will look at what the hottest, biggest, and most compelling mass torts will be in 2023 and see how this list compares to our list of the most active mass torts in 2022 from last year.
The Biggest Class Action MDLs in 2023
The list of the biggest class action MDLs (by number of pending cases) for 2023 is basically the same as last year, with 3 massive MDLs overshadowing all the rest.
#1: 3M Earplug Lawsuit
The 3M earplug class action remains at the very top of the list of biggest mass tort MDLs and nothing else even comes close. At its peak around the end of 2021, the 3M earplugs MDL had around 300,000 pending cases. As of March 16, 2023, the number of pending cases is down to around 259,592. Even at this slightly reduced size, 3M earplugs still towers over all other mass torts and is 6 times bigger than the second biggest MDL.
The 3M earplugs class action is the largest consolidated mass tort in U.S. history and it will probably keep that record for long time. How did it get so big? That depends on who you ask. 3M and its defense lawyers will tell you that the litigation got this big from lawyer advertising and an MDL Judge who was unwilling to dismiss cases from the docket. The truth, however, is that a large number of military veterans believe that they were injured by 3M’s defective earplugs and have been willing to demand compensation.
So what should we expect from the 3M earplug litigation in 2023? 2023 will probably bring another year of waiting and frustration as we wait for appeals to play out on the 3M bankruptcy strategy and the unprecedented sanctions imposed by the MDL Judge.
#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 March 2023, there are 37,522 pending cases in the talc class action MDL.
For the last 14 months, new talcum powder lawsuits have not been filed because there was an automatic stay in place while J&J attempted to pull the talc liabilities into bankruptcy. Now that the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected that bankruptcy strategy, however, the stay has been lifted and new talc cases are once again being filed.
#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 March 2023, there were 18,988 plaintiffs with pending cases in the C.R. Bard Hernia Mesh MDL. Hundreds of newhernia mesh lawsuitshave been transferred into this MDL over the last 6 months, making it one of the more active mass torts.
2023 could actually be the year we see a global settlement in this mass tort. The third and final bellwether trial is set for October (after being pushed back from May) and many are hopeful that a settlement will get done before that.
The Hottest Class Action MDLs
When we say the hottest class action MDLs, we mean those that have seen the fastest growth in terms of new case filings over the last few months.
#1 Paraquat Parkinson’s Lawsuit
The Paraquat class action MDL was one of the hottest mass torts in the second half of 2022 and it looks like that trend is going to continue into 2023. The Paraquat cases allege that chronic exposure to this industrial herbicide causes Parkinson’s disease.
There are currently just under 3,000 pending cases in the Paraquat MDL. Over the last half of 2022, an average of over 200 new cases were added to this MDL each month. That volume has continued into 2023 with over 400 new cases being filed since January 1st and 277 new cases just over the last month.
#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 March 2023, the Paragard class action MDL has 1,716 pending cases. Over the last 6 months this class action has posted steady and reliable growth of around 50-80 new cases per month.
The growth trend in the Paragard MDL seems like it will continue in 2023. Around 200 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.
#3 Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
Although the Camp Lejeune litigation is technically not an MDL, it easily makes our list of the hottest class actions for 2023. Since Congress enacted a new law last August, we have seen a surging flood of Camp Lejeune claims and civil lawsuits. The Navy Jag has already received around 20,000 administrative claims from Camp Lejeune victims and over 200 civil lawsuits have already been filed.
What can we expect from Camp Lejeune in 2023? JAG is not settling any claims during the administrative phase, so we will probably see 1,000 or more Camp Lejeune civil lawsuits filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina before the end of year.
Class Actions Most Likely to Settle in 2023
Based on what our lawyers have been hearing, there seems to be 2 mass tort MDLs that are most likely to get resolved with global settlements in 2023.
Elmiron is a prescription drug used to treat bladder conditions. A few years ago it was discovered that long-term use of Elmiron could cause a very unique type of macular eye damage. Since this discovery, thousands of Elmiron users have filed lawsuits alleging vision loss or impairment. There are currently 1,879 Elmiron lawsuits pending in the MDL.
We think Elmiron is going to be the first class action MDL to settle this year and it could happened before the upcoming first bellwether trial in May. That settlement may come in the form of confidential block settlements with individual law firms as opposed to a global settlement.
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 fore firefighters and military veterans to develop cancer. There are now 4,058 AFFF cancer lawsuits pending the in the firefighting foam class action. There is widespread speculation that global settlement deal could be in the works for the AFFF lawsuits.
Class Actions Ready to Grow in 2023
The class action MDLs in this section are those that are ready to post explosive growth as 2023 continues because of the size of the potential plaintiff field or other circumstances.
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 2023 will likely be a major growth year for the CPAP class action. We have already started to see the volume of new CPAP cases increase, with over 100 filed since the start of the year.
Hair Relaxer Lawsuit
In October of last year, 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. The number of cases in the MDL more than doubled in the first month.