October 27, 2015
This paper suggests procedural improvements to weed out dubious and fraudulent claims in the early stages of multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings to prevent them from becoming "lawsuit magnets." Read More
When multiple civil actions involving one or more common questions of fact are pending in several different federal district courts, those actions can sometimes be transferred to one district court for coordinated and consolidated management and pretrial proceedings under a single judge. Congress created the Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Panel in 1968 to handle these types of cases. The purpose behind implementing MDLs was to streamline and manage large numbers of relatively complex, but factually similar, claims in a consistent manner. This would ideally reduce backlog in federal courts and reduce duplicative discovery, allowing the courts to administer mass claims in a more coherent fashion. Read More...
Unfortunately, the plaintiffs’ trial bar has found ways to game the mass tort litigation system and have devised ways to lump claims together so as to avoid federal jurisdiction. As a result, thousands of cases involving national controversies that should belong in federal court are being handled by a few “magnet” state courts—even though those courts have no relationship to the parties and have no business being involved. This often has the unfortunate effect of dragging innocent small businesses, unlucky enough to be located in a trial lawyer-friendly jurisdiction, into burdensome and expensive litigation.
Furthermore, even if a case is able to be heard in a federal mass tort MDL proceeding, some plaintiffs’ counsel file thousands of advertising-generated claims without properly investigating those claims’ legitimacy. This goes on unimpeded because MDL courts often limit the ability of defendants to scrutinize individual claims within an MDL. As a result, MDL proceedings are often clogged with bogus claims, prejudicing both plaintiffs with legitimate claims and defendants. Additionally, MDL courts sometimes force “bellwether” trials, despite their mandate to only conduct pre-trial proceedings, and use the results of those trials to pressure settlements.
Even though the cases in mass tort MDL proceedings account for roughly 35% of all civil lawsuits pending in the federal court system nationwide, appeals from key rulings in those proceedings are rarely allowed.
The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 (FICALA) will make a number of significant changes to the class action litigation system and also help address many of the significant abuses that turn MDLs into a mechanism of extracting strong-armed settlements from defendants, who are many times effectively deprived of their day in court.
The significant changes to the current state of the mass tort MDL system that FICALA makes include:
FICALA would put MDLs back on the right track towards being a means of making the management of federal civil cases more efficient, rather than a tool used by trial attorneys to extract massive, pressured settlements from defendants.
This special double-issue of the ILR Research Review features a wealth of insight and analysis on the world's rapidly changing litigation environment. The research contained in this issue targets exploitative litigation at home and abroad, examining numerous developments ranging from hyper-aggressive trial lawyer advertising in the U.S. to the imminent expansion of class actions in Europe. Read More
If two's a coincidence and three's a trend, what would you call six headlines in one week?... Read More
The U.S. District Judge overseeing the multidistrict opioid litigation ordered all contingency fee attorneys to disclose to the court any third party litigation funding agreements, National Law Journal reports.... Read More
A Georgetown University Law Center professor said plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier committed a "very serious violation" of legal ethics when he misleadingly told a jury his expert witnesses were unpaid, Law360 reports.... Read More
Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa stands to profit off a county he represents in the state senate for the legal work he's doing with major plaintiffs' lawyer Mikal Watts in a multi-million dollar opioid lawsuit, the Southeast Texas Record reports.... Read More
Plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier was "slapped down for distortions in court" after a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judge said his "obvious, egregious and impactful" actions distorted the jury, said the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.... Read More
"Unequivocally deceptive" payments to two key expert witnesses by plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier were a key factor in the Fifth Circuit's decision to order a new hip implant trial, Law360 reports.... Read More
As a result of "falsehoods" and "deceptions" from plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier, the 5th Circuit tossed a $151 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson in hip implant litigation.... Read More
Self-Driving Cars, Thinking Machines Will Test Limits Of Tort Law; Texas Panel Told To Revive Asbestos Depo 'Coaching' Row... Read More
"Congress: Please protect us from frivolous lawsuits"; Justices approve individual appeals in combined cases... Read More
As plaintiffs' lawyers jockey for fees, class members have objected to requests from "ghost lawyers" in the $10 billion Volkswagen settlement, Law360 reports.... Read More