November 13, 2012 Articles

Drawing the Line Between Class Action and Quasi-Class Action

By Tammy B. Webb and Ina D. Chang

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) was created in 1968 and has since become a primary avenue for federal lawsuits that involve common questions of facts to be organized and coordinated in a single venue during pretrial proceedings. Over time, the centralization of such a large number of mass tort lawsuits has resulted in some courts treating multidistrict litigation (MDL) as “quasi-class actions” and moving beyond the management of discovery and preventing inconsistent pretrial rulings to extensive involvement in settlement and attorney fees. Recently, the desire to obtain global settlements has expanded beyond quasi-class actions to other MDLs or complex class actions. Others courts have found that attempts to further coordinate such settlements are not appropriate.

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