Oot: To MDL, or Not? Complex Litigation Decisions in the United States

For litigants facing complex litigation involving one or more common questions of fact in federal court, consolidation of cases may be an option to cut down on inefficiencies and redundant claims in multiple forums. In an article for Chambers and Partners, Shook Partner Patrick Oot and Jennifer Swanton, legal director and discovery counsel at Medtronic, explore two options for consolidation: multidistrict litigation (MDL) and transfer of venue. 

Oot and Swanton co-authored an article titled “To MDL, or Not? Early Complex Litigation Decisions in the United States,” in which they outline both options, including their benefits and pitfalls.

On the subject of MDLs, they said if litigation involves numerous defendants or a significant number of matters across many districts, filing a transfer motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) may be a consideration, noting that the JPML has found that as many as a dozen cases might not warrant an MDL.

“The most significant and important benefit of an MDL is the creation of considerable efficiencies in the discovery and pretrial motion stages of litigation,” they said. “Just like a § 1404 transfer, a party can avoid facing the prospect of litigating numerous similar actions before a variety of federal judges, which increases the likelihood of inconsistent rulings on key issues. Litigants should view an MDL as a potential but complex option.”

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