The Growth of Multidistrict Litigation: Emerging Issues and Possible Solutions


Event Details


On Friday, June 16, 2017, the bipartisan Congressional Civil Justice Academy held its first ever panel discussion on the Senate side of the US Capitol. Panelists took a look at the problems associated with multidistrict litigation and explored possible reforms.

The Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Act was passed in 1968 to address a perceived “explosion” in complex litigation arising in multiple courts throughout the states by centralizing the cases in federal district courts. Almost fifty years later, MDL cases have expanded to nearly 36 percent of the entire civil caseload, and the trend is growing. Critics note, however, that, unlike traditional class actions, MDLs are not subject to procedural rules governing the fairness of proposed settlements and attorney fees, which leads to uneven applications and unbalanced outcomes. Reforms have been proposed in sections of the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act passed in the House (HR 985).

This Congressional Civil Justice Caucus Academy briefing featured:

J. Maria Glover
Associate Professor of Law, Georgetown Law Center

Stephen J. Harburg
Parner, Litigation; Mass Torts, Insurance and Consumer Litigation, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Emery G. Lee III
Senior Research Associate, Federal Judicial Center

Moderator: John J. Kornacki
Director of Education, Law & Economics Center