February 10, 2017 Top Story

Court Threatens Sanctions Against Attorneys for Flimsy MDL Suits

Counsel must advise clients regarding weak cases

Andrew J. Kennedy

Frustrated by an explosion of "marginal cases" filed in multidistrict litigation (MDL) matters, an MDL transferee judge has issued an order warning that any plaintiff's counsel losing future summary judgment motions may be required "to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed." The district court also suggested that liberally allowing consolidation of cases into MDL litigation may have the effect of encouraging the filing of weak cases. The order indicates the potential beginning of court attempts to buffer "MDL-ing everything," observes one leader of the ABA Section of Litigation.

Court Attempts to "Weed Out" Marginal Cases from MDL

In re Mentor Corp. Obtape Transobtuburator Sling Products Liability Litigation began as 22 products liability cases transferred and consolidated into multidistrict litigation venued in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. That MDL docket then ballooned to 850 cases due to an "onslaught of lawyer television solicitations." The parties dismissed over 500 cases by stipulation, voluntary dismissal, or motion, leaving the court to decide about 100 summary judgment motions, try 3 bellwether cases, and remand 42 cases.

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