New MDLs, Camp Lejeune, PFAS and Boy Scouts with Joe Fantini – Tort Talk Thursday 4/18/24

By Susan Barfield
April 17, 2024

Susan B. (0:00:06) – Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Tort Talk Thursday here as usual every week with Joe Fantini from Rosen Injury Lawyers. Joe, thank you so much for taking time to connect and give us the inside scoop and insights and updates on all things mass tort.

Joe F. (0:00:23) – Thanks for having me, Susan. Excited as always to be with you and talk everything that’s going on in mass tort this week.

Susan B. (0:00:29) – Yeah, well, why don’t we start off, what have you heard on baby food?

Joe F. (0:00:34) – Baby food. So this is exciting news on that. We just saw last week that there was a new MDL form. So before the JPML, we were waiting about two weeks for an order to come down, and it was entered and it granted and established a new MDL out in district court in California. Really excited about this litigation. Previously, the MDL was denied back in 2021, but with this being granted, we’re anticipating over ten thousand cases. So the science is definitely challenging, but we have a really good venue, we have a good judge, we have really strong attorneys and really deserving clients. So this is one to watch. And we were all happy to see that this MDL got formed last week.

Susan B. (0:01:15) – Yeah, that is really exciting. Not so exciting as the news on sex trafficking tell us about that.

Joe F. (0:01:21) – Yeah. So also before the JPML, at the same time as the baby food, we had a motion to consolidate the sex trafficking cases. So previously there was an MDL request that was also denied. This time we came back with more cases. There were over 1500 cases. The defendants obviously were fighting it, and they were arguing that the injuries and the facts and the defendants were really specific per case. So unfortunately, we weren’t able to get over the hurdle this time. And the panel again denied the motion to consolidate. That pretty much ends any chance of this becoming MDL and a mass tort going forward. So those will be handled like single event cases. Definitely a lot of people out there that need help. I think right now there’s over 2000 cases, hundreds of cases filed throughout the country. But as far as an MDL and a mass tort, this isn’t going to be one.

Susan B. (0:02:11) – Okay, well, what is new on the Camp Lejeune front?

Joe F. (0:02:14) – Camp Lejeune. So we’re coming up on the deadline here in early August, the two year time period to file an administrative claim. So if you were injured or you’re working with clients, make sure you get that in. That deadline is only to file with the administrative process. You’ll still have time later in the beginning of 2025, the deadline to file with the court. But right now, we have over 177,000 administrative claims filed. There’s about 1600 individual lawsuits filed in North Carolina federal court. We were all really excited last year about this early settlement process. It seems like that has been more hype than reality. In total, there’s only been 51 claimants that have qualified and been offered a settlement. Of that, I believe only over 20 have accepted, and there’s been nine that have been denied. So we’re still working on about 20 more. But the hopes that these cases would be resolved in a large amount very quickly is not going to happen. But overall, the litigation is moving forward. We’re working on right now the track two discovery plan. So we have the track one bellwether cases already selected. They’re being worked up. We’re trying to come up with the discoveries for track two. Meanwhile, the defendants are dragging their feet a little bit in producing some documents. They’re claiming they’ve already produced more than 12 million pages, which is true, but we need more information. So we’ll see some discoveries disputes throughout the summer here. Looking for the first trial in 2025.

Susan B. (0:03:41) – Okay. 2025 will be here before we know it. PFAS. What is on the front with PFAS?

Joe F. (0:03:47) – PFAS, a lot of good news. Last week we heard about another settlement. This was with Tyco. This was for $750 million. And so that brings a total to over $13 billion dollars between Tyco, DuPont, and 3M. So that’s some really good results. We’ve already had two of those settlements approved by the court. Look for this Tyco one to get approved in the fall here. After that, we’re really focusing now on these individual personal injury cases also filed in the MDL. So we’ve identified the tier one injuries. Those are getting worked up. We don’t have the bellwether process nailed down exactly for some of the timing, but we have about 30 cases right now that are being worked up, hoping for a trial in about a year from now. So I really like this litigation. It’s really going to pick up steam here in the second half of 2024, and it’s a great time for everybody to get involved.

Susan B. (0:04:40) – And then lastly, Boy Scouts. What is going on there?

Joe F. (0:04:44) – Boy Scouts. We heard some news earlier this year where there was a motion to kind of stall and push back some of the deadlines for the settlement that got denied by the Supreme Court. Everything’s moving forward now. So we have an upcoming deadline of May 31 for claimants to submit their documentation and their questionnaire to be reviewed to participate as part of the bankruptcy process. So if you have clients, make sure you get the paperwork and get it submitted with the supporting documents that will be reviewed throughout the summer. We don’t know exactly when the distributions are going to be made, but I think sometime in 2025 we’ll start having some money go to these very deserving clients.

Susan B. (0:05:25) – For sure. Awesome. Well, Joe, as always, definitely appreciate you taking a moment to give us these industry insights.

Joe F. (0:05:31) – Thanks, Susan.

Susan B. (0:05:32) – Have a great day.

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