Multidistrict litigation: Centralization is getting more challenging

With this boom in MDL requests, the Panel is on a trend of granting a lower percentage of requests

Centralizing cases with common facts into one multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceeding for pretrial activities under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 is effective and cost-efficient for both sides because it eliminates the burdens of litigating on multiple fronts, along with duplicative discovery and motions practice. Under the guidance of a judge experienced in complex matters, there are increased opportunities for early resolution, including case-ending threshold motions and global settlement.

With these obvious benefits, it is no wonder that there is a major upswing in the number of requests for MDL proceedings in recent years. During the 1990’s, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation received roughly 40-50 requests annually. From 2003 to 2006, that number grew to over 70 requests annually, and by 2007 and 2008, nearly 100 requests poured in each year. The peak hit in 2009 with 121 requests generating 83 new MDL proceedings in that one year alone.

Contributing Author

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Kathleen Taylor Sooy

Kathleen Taylor Sooy is national chair of Crowell & Moring's Class Action Litigation Practice. Based in Washington, D.C., Kathleen focuses her practice on national litigation,...

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Contributing Author

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Tracy A. Roman

Tracy A. Roman is a partner in Crowell & Moring's Litigation Group. Based in Washington, D.C., Tracy has extensive experience litigating a wide range of...

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