Mass Tort Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)

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Congress created Multidistrict Litigation proceedings (MDLs) in 1968 so that overlapping cases are centralized before a single judge for coordinated pre-trial proceedings, resulting in much more efficiency. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are also now using MDLs to bring meritless claims in the hopes that the sheer number of cases will pressure defendants into settlements. In 2018, 52 percent of all federal civil cases wound up in MDLs, of which about 90 percent were mass tort cases. Furthermore, the plaintiffs’ bar also groups together unrelated personal injury claims in multiple-plaintiff lawsuits as a trick to avoid federal jurisdiction, so the cases can be handled by a few “magnet” state courts. Read More...

A single judge can oversee tens of thousands of consolidated cases in a single MDL. This results in a very small amount of judges wielding an enormous amount of power over a majority of civil cases in federal courts. This creates a problem as MDL’s have different appeal rights for plaintiffs and defendants, where a plaintiff can immediately appeal a judge’s decision, and the defendant alternately has no timely or effective way to appeal. This ultimately leads to defendants being forced to settle. The current unequal treatment of defendants and plaintiffs is a clear imbalance that needs correction. In addition, the federal judiciary is looking at potentially changing the rules regarding MDL proceedings to help address this situation.

The Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) believes the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act (FICALA) will make a number of significant changes to the class action litigation system that turn MDLs into a mechanism of extracting strong-armed settlements from defendants. FICALA would ensure federal court jurisdiction to limit state court magnet MDL proceedings, and mandate evidentiary support for plaintiffs’ claims to avoid baseless proceedings.

Suggested Resources

Research
  • MDL Imbalance: Why Defendants Need Timely Access To Interlocutory Review

    MDL Imbalance: Why Defendants Need Timely Access To Interlocutory Review

    April 24, 2019

    Multidistrict litigation proceedings (MDLs) were created as an efficient way to handle pretrial proceedings in hundreds or thousands of similar cases against the same defendant. Unfortunately, MDLs also give plaintiffs an unfair advantage when it comes to appeals. If a defendant makes a dispositive motion-on preemption or expert evidence, for example-and is denied, it won't normally have access to immediate appeal. But if the defendant wins the motion, plaintiffs can appeal right away. This paper argues for courts to give MDL plaintiffs and defendants equal access to appellate review. Read More

  • <i>BMS</i>   Battlegrounds: Practical Advice for Litigating Personal Jurisdiction After Bristol-Myers

    BMS Battlegrounds: Practical Advice for Litigating Personal Jurisdiction After Bristol-Myers

    June 04, 2018

    The U.S. Supreme Court's decision last year in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court was a clear statement that the days of blatant, unchecked plaintiff forum shopping in search of outsized verdicts are at an end. ILR's research explores this paradigm shift and provides practical advice for defendants litigating BMS in the trenches. Read More

All Results for Mass Tort Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)

  1. In the News Today - July 16, 2018

    July 16, 2018 | News

    J&J Hit With $4.7 Billion Jury Verdict in Baby Powder Suit; "From Policy to Payday"... Read More

  2. In the News Today - June 13, 2018

    June 13, 2018 | News

    Unbeaten At Trial, Bayer and Janssen Say Cycle Of Xarelto Lawsuits 'Needs To Be Stopped'; Florida Contractor Arrested for Involvement in $140K Assignment of Benefits Scheme... Read More

  3. Bristol-Myers Squibb Battlegrounds: Personal Jurisdiction, A Year Later

    June 12, 2018 | Video | Watch

  4. In the News Today - June 12, 2018

    June 12, 2018 | News

    Drug Companies Challenge Locality Legal Theories in Opioid MDL... Read More

  5. BMS Battlegrounds: Practical Advice for Litigating Personal Jurisdiction After Bristol-Myers

    June 04, 2018 | Research

    The U.S. Supreme Court's decision last year in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court was a clear statement that the days of blatant, unchecked plaintiff forum shopping in search of outsized verdicts are at an end. ILR's research explores this paradigm shift and provides practical advice for defendants litigating BMS in the trenches.... Read More

  6. In the News Today - May 31, 2018

    May 31, 2018 | News

    NFL Attorneys Ask Judge to Investigate Fraud; California Court to Review Class Certification in Illinois Biometric Data Lawsuit... Read More

  7. State Lawsuits Show Differing Strategies, Views on Private Attorney Contracts

    May 29, 2018 | News

    The wave of six new opioid-related state lawsuits demonstrate the emerging differences in how state governments choose to litigate mass action cases, Legal Newsline reports in Forbes.... Read More

  8. In the News Today - May 23, 2018

    May 23, 2018 | News

    NCAA Settlement Class Member Fighting High Attorneys' Fees; Sirius XM Says 'Same Lawyers' are Bringing 'Same Suit,' Ask Judge to Dismiss TCPA Class Action... Read More

  9. NFL Settlement Judge to Hear Motion on "Widespread Fraud"

    May 23, 2018 | News

    U.S. District Judge Anita Brody scheduled a hearing for May 30 to hear more about the "widespread fraud" that the National Football League (NFL) has alleged is taking place in the concussion settlement, Reuters reports.... Read More

  10. Plaintiffs' Lawyers Looking for Absurd Attorneys' Fees Had a Rough Week

    May 14, 2018 | Blogs

    If two's a coincidence and three's a trend, what would you call six headlines in one week?... Read More



1969-12-31