Here’s today’s question: What the heck is the difference between a “notice of related case” and a “tag-along notice” filed with the MDL Panel?

We’re MDL jocks, and, until recently, we had no idea. We routinely see notices filed with both titles, seemingly interchangeably.

But one of our colleagues recently asked the Clerk of the Panel, and now we know the answer. Or at least we know the answer the Clerk gave last week.

According to the MDL Panel Clerk, parties should file a “notice of related case” to identify new federal cases filed before the MDL Panel issues a transfer order. That is, when a new case is filed early, before the MDL Panel has coordinated the cases, the case should be identified in a “notice of related case.”

On the other hand, after the MDL Panel has entered an order of coordination, later-filed cases should be identified in “tag-along notices.”

Deep in our hearts, we suspect this makes no difference at all. We’re fairly confident that that the Clerk of the MDL Panel would deem a “notice of related action” to be a “tag-along notice” or vice versa, to assure that no party was prejudiced by a truly trivial mistake.

On the other hand, folks who practice regularly before the MDL Panel, and who view themselves as MDL jocks, should store away this juicy tidbit of information. It may not have any practical effect, but think of how you can impress (well, okay, bore to tears) your colleagues.