Photo of Bexis

Sensible bloggers put titles on their posts that attract attention (and thus links from others in the blogosphere).

Not us!

This is an interesting post about a recent study undertaken by some of the empirical folks at the Federal Judicial Center (and others) about the activities of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. So what cryptic title do we give to our post?


Only the intrepid will find us.

In any event, the new paper, by Margaret Williams of the FJC, Richard Nagareda of Vanderbilt, and others is titled, “The Expanding Role of Multidistrict Consolidation in Federal Civil Litigation: An Empirical Investigation.” The key sentences from the abstract (we won’t burden you with an entire abstract) tell us:

“We find, most importantly, that the Panel has become more likely to grant motions to order transfer of proceedings over time, after controlling for other factors. We also find, all else equal, that the Panel is more likely to transfer a proceeding including class allegations, and more likely to transfer proceedings raising certain kinds of claims. With respect to MDL cases (as distinguished from MDL proceedings, which involve multiple cases), we find that the overwhelming majority of MDL cases are products liability cases; asbestos cases make up a substantial part of the whole. We also find that the almost all cases considered by the Panel are made part of an ongoing MDL proceeding, and that, moreover, almost all cases made part of an ongoing MDL proceeding are closed in the transferee district. These findings suggest that transferee judges are taking a ‘maximalist’ approach to pretrial proceedings in transferred cases.”

There’s really no new news there. Those conclusions simply confirm the conventional thinking about the Panel and the more limited quasi-empirical research previously undertaken by, well, one of us. See Mark Herrmann & Pearson Bownas, “Making Book On The MDL Panel: Will It Centralize Your Product Liability Cases?” BNA Class Action Litigation Report (Feb. 9, 2007).

But it’s nice to see this study undertaken by folks with more data at their disposal and more time to do the work.