November 19, 2014 Articles

Class Actions 101: Multidistrict Litigation Proceedings

A primer on the MDL and streamlining the pretrial process.

By Gregory C. Cook

The Makeup of the MDL Panel

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) is composed of seven federal district judges, appointed by the chief justice, who have the authority to transfer multidistrict civil actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1407. The MDL Panel does not keep the cases; it merely makes the decisions (1) whether to consolidate and (2) to which court and specific judge to transfer. The main purpose is to streamline the entire pretrial process by eliminating duplication in discovery.

Where the MDL Panel Sits

The official office of the MDL Panel is in Washington, D.C., but the MDL Panel holds hearings around the country.

There are essentially two ways in which a proceeding for the transfer may be initiated: (1) The MDL Panel itself may initiate this proceeding, or (2) a party to one of the actions may file a motion with the clerk of the district court in which the action is pending.

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