RX for the Defense

Authors: Kevin M. Hara

Over the past decade, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML” or “Panel”) has increasingly denied motions for centralization, rather than simply granting such requests, which had been almost a certainty more than 10 years ago. In 2015, the JPML denied more centralization motions (36) than it granted (33), the first time ever that denials have surpassed the number of motions granted. While this article considers all types of cases, it is predominately focused on products liability actions, and strategy for opposing centralization. The JPML is authorized to transfer civil actions pending in more than one district and involving one or more common questions of fact for coordinated pretrial proceedings upon the determination that transfer “will be for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and will promote the just and efficient conduct of such actions.” See Manual for Complex Litigation, Fourth, § 20.31 (2004). Although the JPML still grants many motions for coordination, centralization can no longer be taken for granted.

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