Katrina Carroll Waist UpOn Monday, a federal judge appointed lawyers to lead the privacy class actions against TikTok who previously accused each other of mishandling the litigation. They include co-lead counsel Ekwan How of Bird Marella and Katrina Carroll of Lynch Carpenter.

A Chicago federal judge has named a leadership group for privacy class actions against TikTok, in the wake of a selection process that often featured infighting among plaintiffs counsel.

Two groups of plaintiffs lawyers battled over leadership of the multi district litigation — about 20 class actions sent last month to U.S. District Judge John Lee of the Northern District of Illinois. One group, led by Katrina Carroll, of Lynch Carpenter in Chicago, and Jonathan Jagher of Freed Kanner London & Millen in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, insisted they had reached a confidential settlement of the cases last month. The other, led by Megan Jones, a San Francisco partner at Hausfeld, and Ekwan Rhow of Los Angeles-based Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, raised concerns about the negotiations, in which they did not participate.

On Monday, Lee appointed How and Carroll as co-lead counsel, along with Elizabeth Fegan, of FeganScott, who supported Carroll’s group.

Lee, who previously has cautioned lawyers to work together and include all parties in settlement negotiations, did so again in his leadership order.

“The court anticipates that the plaintiffs’ leadership group will work by consensus and that plaintiffs’ counsel in particular will do everything possible to facilitate a consensus decision-making process,” Lee wrote. “It also is worth emphasizing that cooperation by and among all members of the plaintiffs’ leadership group is essential for the orderly and efficient resolution of this MDL.”

He ordered lead counsel to submit a proposal by Oct. 9 on how they plan to work together, with a status report due Oct. 30 that includes updates on the proposed settlement.

He set a virtual hearing for Nov. 4.

Carroll, in an email, said, “I look forward to proceeding in a coordinated effort for the benefit of our clients and the class.” How did not respond to a request for comment.

The defendant, TikTok Inc., is the developer of a popular app for creating short form videos on mobile devices. It got a reprieve from being banned in the United States on Sunday.

The battle for class action leadership comes as President Donald Trump, citing national security concerns, issued orders last month, one of which threatened to limit new downloads of TikTok in the United States by Sept. 20, later extended to Sept. 27, if it did not reach a real with a U.S. company.

TikTok, whose Chinese-based parent ByteDance announced plans to sell its U.S. operations to Oracle and Walmart, countered with its own lawsuit against the U.S. government. In that case, a federal judge in the District of Columbia struck down Trump’s order. The order, unsealed on Monday, found the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, cited in Trump’s order, exempted “informational materials” and “Personal communication” with no economic value, both of which are largely TikTok’s content.

In a related case, a federal judge in Pennsylvania on Sept. 26 rejected a motion for temporary restraining order brought by three TikTok users challenging trump’s order on constitutional grounds.

The fight among the lawyers in the privacy cases adds another unusual twist for TikTok. Those cases allege the video sharing app did not inform users, who include minors, that it was collecting their biometric data, in violation of the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act, which provides statutory damages between $1,000 and $5,000 per violation, as well as other computer and privacy laws.

Problems among the lawyers surfaced a few months before Aug. 4, when the U.S. Judicial Panel Multidistrict Litigation sent the cases to Lee’s courtroom.

Days after the transfer of the cases, TikTok and Carroll’s group informed Lee in an Aug. 16 joint status report that they had reached a class action settlement “in principle” following a mediation three days earlier. The settlement, which they anticipated filing in court Oct. 26 for preliminary approval, must remain confidential, they wrote, because of TikTok’s sale discussions.

The settlement didn’t involve everyone. Carroll, in her Sept. 8 for leadership, insisted that Rhow’s group, despite having conducted their own failed mediation talks with TikTok on April 6, refused to participate in the negotiations last month.

In her leadership application papers, she cautioned that a “forced marriage” with Rhow’s team “could derail the settlement and irreparably harm the class.”

Rhow, in court papers, has countered that TikTok chose to settle with a preferred group of plaintiffs lawyers, who shut his group out of negotiations. He insisted that TikTok had prohibited him from attending the mediation and, since then, has kept the settlement a secret.

His group raised concerns about the impact that the “destruction of crucial evidence” under Trump’s executive orders and TikTok’s imminent sale would have on the privacy class actions.

TikTok, which continued to support the settlement, took the unusual step of getting involved in the fight, praising Carroll’s group, who had negotiated the deal, which criticizing Rhow’s group for “overaggressive and excessive pleadings, emergency motions, and attempts to sabotage the efforts of other parties to resolve the litigation.”

Monday’s order created a plaintiffs’ steering committee made up of lawyers in both groups. In Rhow’s group, Jones and Amanda Klevorn, of Burns Charest, joined the committee. Support Carroll’s group were Jagher; Michael Gervais, of Susman Godfrey; and Albert Chang, of Bottini & Bottini.

Lee also appointed Shannon McNulty, of Clifford Law Offices, who was part of Rhow’s group as liaison counsel.

At a Sept. 24 hearing, Lee insisted that putting the dueling lawyers together would prevent fights down the road.

“Some in their briefs suggest that the court need not go this route and characterized such an approach as a ‘forced marriage,” he said, according to the transcript. “Others referred to this as a ‘team of rivals.’ I, myself, rather than referring to it in those terms, would like to think of it as an all-star team of sorts or an Olympic team, made up of individuals from perhaps different individual teams, but who are asked to come together to pursue the interests of all of the plaintiffs as a whole in this litigation.”