June 20, 2013 — The Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (JPML) has decided to centralize Tylenol lawsuits in a federal Multi-District Litigation (Tylenol MDL #2436). The litigation is overseen by Judge Lawrence F. Stengel in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
McNeill — a subsidiary company of Johnson & Johnson that is responsible for manufacturing, marketing, and selling Tylenol — opposed the establishment of an MDL. The company stated: “We are disappointed with today’s decision, because we do not believe the cases meet the criteria for multidistrict litigation.” Although the JPML disagreed, they established the MDL near McNeill headquarters in Pennsylvania.
Judge Stengel has established Steering Committees by appointing lawyers to serve leadership roles. The lawyers are now engaged in pre-trial discovery. They may also negotiate which cases will be selected for “bellwether” trials to go before a jury. As the litigation proceeds, they may negotiate settlement agreements.
Since the MDL was established in April, the number of lawsuits has grown from 27 to over 100 lawsuits. The litigation is expected to involve hundreds and perhaps thousands of claims.