Multidistrict Litigation: Know How It Works
Multidistrict litigation includes lawsuits involving dangerous narcotics, medical devices, aircraft crashes, and intricate issues affecting a large group of people. Federal judges transfer these cases and consolidate them into multidistrict litigation (MDL).
How Multidistrict Litigation Works
In 1968 Congress created the Multidistrict Litigation system in order to manage multiple federal civil cases that share a common issue, and are transferred to a single district court. The goals of MDL are to save money and time by joining similar cases into one action.
The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decides when multiple lawsuits should be consolidated into an MDL. The panel consists of seven members and is appointed by the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. They decide whether to fuse your case with other similar cases and, if so, to which court and judge to transfer the cases.
The MDL judge presides over pretrial motions, discovery proceedings, and settlement conferences. The judge may dispute entire case or certain claims, and presides over pretrial proceedings and discovery for the cases. Judges remand cases for trial, meaning that these cases are sent back to the original court of filing.
What Factors Does the Multidistrict Litigation Panel Consider?
The MDL Panel considers multiple questions, including:
- whether there are one or more common questions of fact;
- whether the transfer is for the convenience of all of the parties involved; and
- whether the transfer will promote judicial efficiency, economy, and fairness.
While the MDL Panel may transfer the case to any district, it often selects a district with a currently pending case. The MDL Panel will usually select the most convenient forum for most of the parties and witnesses involved.
The Janicek Law Firm has previously discussed Multidistrict litigation and what types of cases are subject to this type of litigation.