NDCA Court Sets up Procedural Parameters of Social Media Addiction/Personal Injury MDL

Within a week of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation’s (JPML) consolidation and transfer of more than two dozen actions against social media platform operators Meta Platforms, TikTok, Snap, and YouTube, the judge overseeing the case issued an order setting parameters for proceedings including an initial in-person case management conference on November 9.

The lawsuits take issue with the way the social media platform operators allegedly target youth users. Using traditional product liability and personal injury causes of action, the suits argue that the platforms encourage addictive use while exposing adolescents, who sometimes use the platform without proper age verification, to exploitative and harmful content. Further, use of the platforms foments social, emotional, and physical to young users, the suits claim.

The cases come in the wake of testimony from ex-Meta Platforms employee Frances Haugen who exposed the company for knowing of but concealing the risks its Facebook and Instagram platforms pose to youth users.

This week, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers set forth a number of procedures as well as an initial timeline. As to Meta Platforms, the court ordered the defendant to create a spreadsheet listing all cases and certain information including the claims asserted, the defendants implicated, the lawyers for each party, and a short summary of the case status, even for cases where Meta Platforms is not a party.

In addition, the court outlined the process for appointment of lead counsel and a plaintiffs’ steering committee (PSC). “Any attorney who has filed an action in this MDL litigation may apply for a lead counsel or steering committee position or both,” the court specified, noting that it would take into consideration relevant professional experience and time and resource commitment abilities, among other things.

The deadline to apply for lead counsel and PSC positions is October 20. The court added that if necessary, counsel should meet and agree as to which lawyers should be appointed liaison counsel, subject to court approval.