This four-part series will present a discussion on settling multidistrict litigations (“MDLs”). I will begin with Introduction to the MDL Settlement Process, followed by Best Practices for Settling, Ethical Obligations of Counsel and Allocation Methodology.
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation -
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation was created in 1968 and is composed of seven judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The panel decides whether similar cases in multiple federal district courts should be centralized in a single MDL docket and which court should oversee the MDL. The MDL process was established to avoid duplication of discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings and conserve resources of the parties, counsel and the judiciary. About one-third of all cases in federal court are in the MDL system, and 27 percent of active federal judges have an MDL assignment. The MDL panel conducts hearings to determine whether cases should receive MDL status, and then assigns them to a judge. The panel adheres to a tight briefing schedule, which is completed within 30 days of the filing of a motion to centralize, and meets every two months to hear arguments on MDL status and assignment. It hears arguments on 15 to 20 cases at each session, and each counsel has two to five minutes to argue to the panel. The panel recommends that parties arguing for the same result designate one spokesperson, although anywhere from two to eight lawyers typically argue. After the arguments are heard, the panel issues an order about two weeks afterwards with MDL status and assignment.
Originally published on Law.com.
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