Mass-Tort MDL Program for Judicial Conference Committees

October 8, 2015
Duke University School of Law (Closed to Public)


The Center for Judicial Studies is holding a one-day conference on Thursday, October 8, 2015, at Duke Law School on the emerging Multidistrict Litigation caseload phenomenon.  Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) chair Judge Sarah Vance and Federal Judicial Center Director Judge Jeremy Fogel are on the program.  In addition, Judge Charles Breyer from the JPML, and Judge Eldon Fallon, who has handled several high-profile mass-tort MDLs, will attend the meeting.  Judges from the following Judicial Conference committees have also agreed to attend:

  • Hon. Wm. Terry Hodges and Hon. Rebecca Pallmeyer (Chair and member, respectively, Committee on Court Administration and Case Management)
  • Hon. Jeffrey Sutton (Chair, Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure)
  • Hon. John D. Bates (Chair, Advisory Committee on Civil Rules)
  • Hon. Robert Dow (Member, Advisory Committee on Civil Rules)
  • Hon. Nancy Freudenthal (Member, Committee on the Administration of the Magistrate Judges System)
  • Hon. Eduardo Robreno (Member, Committee on the Administration of the Bankruptcy System)
  • MDL proceedings have become a driver of litigation in America and represent more than one-third of the entire pending U.S. civil caseload, concentrated in fewer than 20 mass-tort mega-MDL actions.  The mass-tort MDL phenomenon presents important and pressing policy questions and issues for the JPML and Judicial Conference committees charged with case-management responsibilities.  The purpose of the conference is to provide information to the judiciary’s leadership on the growing number of cases filed and centralized in a small number of MDLs and begin a conversation about whether such centralization is healthy for the justice system.
  • A blue-ribbon faculty consisting of Judge Anthony Scirica, Dean David Levi, Professors Francis McGovern, Sam Issacharoff, Ernie Young, Edward Cooper, Elizabeth Burch, Thomas Metzloff, Jaime Dodge, and eight leading practitioners in this field will address: (1) the statistical data showing the increase in cases centralized in MDLs; (2) potential conflicts of interests in appointing plaintiff steering committees and forming multi-million dollar common benefit funds; (3) federalism issues rising from assessing fees from lawyers involved in parallel state litigation; and (4) issues arising from aggregate settlement of thousands of individual actions.
  • Only invited judges and the conference’s faculty will be in attendance, though Duke Law students will be permitted to attend.
  • The conference is held under the Chatham House Rule: "When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed."