July 31, 2020 Articles

The Rule of Law, and Rule 16, Persist in Multidistrict Litigations

The Sixth Circuit drew on a line of cases in which appellate courts had reined in MDL courts seeking efficiencies outside the scope of the Federal Rules and section 1407.

By Pravin R. Patel and Samuel J. Mendez

In many ways, multidistrict litigations (MDLs) occupy a legal territory all their own. Their governing statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1407, empowers the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to transfer “civil actions involving one or more common questions of fact . . . to any district for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings,” in order to “promote the just and efficient conduct of such actions.” Since section 1407’s enactment in 1968, the MDL landscape has expanded to encompass nearly 40 percent of all civil actions pending in federal court. See Andrew D. Bradt, “The Long Arm of Multidistrict Litigation,” 59 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 1165, 1168 (2018). 

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