Earlier this month, I wrote about the class-action provisions of the new Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, which has passed out of the Judiciary Committee and is headed for a floor vote in the House.  At the end of that post, I promised a further explanation of the mass action provisions as well.  These provisions are aimed primarily at multi-district litigation (MDL), which is rapidly becoming a substitute for class proceedings when dealing with numerous personal-injury claims.

Section 4 – would amend the federal jurisdiction statute, allowing the court to sever claims made by an in-state plaintiff if … Continue Reading

Class actions are not the only form of aggregate litigation. Multi-district litigation (“MDL”), the process by which large numbers of smaller lawsuits are consolidated before a single judge for pretrial purposes, without requiring any kind of certification process, has been around since 1968.  And, as courts have demanded more rigor for Rule 23 certification, MDLs have become more popular, particularly for mass torts.
With that increasing popularity comes increasing scrutiny.  To take just one example, a new paper on the proper role of the judge in MDL cases by professors Andrew Bradt and D. Theodore Rave has received press coverage
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Multi-district litigation is becoming more and more common in class actions, and has added another strategic dimension to the cases.

For plaintiffs it adds the question of which law firm should lead the consolidated litigation.
 And, as should be clear by now, that is no small question for plaintiffs.

But the other issue it complicates–for both sides–is forum-shopping. Forum-shopping tends to be unavoidable in class-action litigation.  For plaintiffs, forum-shopping usually involves choosing the best possible mix of favorable law, favorable judges, favorable demographics, and potential interference from other plaintiffs’ firms. [For a fuller discussion of the … Continue Reading