It’s hard to believe that, with over half of all cases pending in the federal courts now docketed in multi-district litigations (“MDLs”), the statutory basis for all this litigation is but one section of the United States Code:
(a) When civil actions involving one or more common questions of fact are pending in different districts, such actions may be transferred to any district for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings. Such transfers shall be made by the judicial panel on multidistrict litigation authorized by this section upon its determination that transfers for such proceedings will be for the convenience of parties and witnesses and will promote the just and efficient conduct of such actions. Each action so transferred shall be remanded by the panel at or before the conclusion of such pretrial proceedings to the district from which it was transferred unless it shall have been previously terminated: Provided, however, That the panel may separate any claim, cross-claim, counter-claim, or third-party claim and remand any of such claims before the remainder of the action is remanded.
(b) Such coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings shall be conducted by a judge or judges to whom such actions are assigned by the judicial panel on multidistrict litigation. For this purpose, upon request of the panel, a circuit judge or a district judge may be designated and assigned temporarily for service in the transferee district . . . The judge or judges to whom such actions are assigned, the members of the judicial panel on multidistrict litigation, and other circuit and district judges designated when needed by the panel may exercise the powers of a district judge in any district for the purpose of conducting pretrial depositions in such coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings.
(c) Proceedings for the transfer of an action under this section may be initiated by −
(i) the judicial panel on multidistrict litigation upon its own initiative, or
(ii) motion filed with the panel by a party in any action in which transfer for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings under this section may be appropriate. A copy of such motion shall be filed in the district court in which the moving party’s action is pending.
[Procedures for the JPML deliberations on creating MDLs, notice, and filing of transfer orders]
(d) [Composition of JPML]
(e) [Restrictions on appealability of JPML orders]
(f) The panel may prescribe rules for the conduct of its business not inconsistent with Acts of Congress and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
(g) [Peculiar to antitrust]
(h) [Peculiar to antitrust]
28 U.S.C.A. §1407.
That’s it. There are as many subsections of the MDL statute (2) peculiar to antitrust as there are governing the substance of what MDLs are intended to accomplish.