July 31, 2020 Articles

MDL Reform: Why Litigators Need to Persuade an Old Dog to Learn New Tricks

A brief history of multidistrict litigations and their purpose, the system’s ailments, and suggested paths to reform.

By Hannah R. Anderson and Andrew G. Jackson

For those practicing in the world of mass torts, particularly those specializing in drug and device litigation, multidistrict litigation (MDL) is as regular as breathing. It wasn’t always this way, at least according to the old-timers. But for anyone who entered the drug and device product liability litigation practice after the year 2000, the MDL is a mainstay. Yet, like our beloved mentors, the MDL system is not immune from aging. The good ones learn from their history and adapt to the challenges of a new era. This article makes the case that our shared old dog, the MDL system, can and should too.

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