Embracing an idea floated by the defense bar, judges in at least two prominent multidistrict litigation proceedings have ordered lawyers to prescreen some of the lawsuits through an “initial census” process.

The early vetting orders, issued last week, come from U.S. District Judge William Orrick of the Northern District of California, in cases against San Francisco-based e-cigarette maker Juul, and U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers of the Northern District of Florida, in lawsuits over 3M’s earplugs. They mimic an idea that the defense bar has pushed as a means to weed out meritless lawsuits. General counsel from 48 companies also floated the idea in an Oct. 3 letter to the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure as did the International Association of Defense Counsel, in a letter on Tuesday.

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