The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation and The Federal Judicial Center have recently released a new publication, “Ten Steps to Better Case Management: A Guide for Multidistrict Litigation
As readers of MassTortDefense well know, Section 1407 empowers a transferee judge to exercise all the powers of the transferor court, with the exception of actually conducting the trial of the case (except in special circumstances). The stated purpose of this Guide is to briefly introduce some of
the “best practices” — in the authors’ view — that transferee judges have developed over the years. It is designed as a complimentary piece to the guidance in the Manual for Complex Litigation (4th ed.), which addresses some of difficult management, intellectual, and legal challenges posed by MDL cases.
The advice includes the suggestion to identify and appoint liaison counsel who are vigorous advocates, constructive problem-solvers, and also civil with their adversaries, because the judge cannot manage an MDL entirely alone. “To a large extent, you [judge] must rely upon lead counsel to assist you.”
Another welcome suggestion: Rulings should be prompt and disciplined; scholarly
perfection is not required on all issues. In particular, resolving discovery disputes expeditiously is important to avoid undue delay in any case, but particularly in an MDL, says the Guide.
In MDL litigation with parallel state cases, judges are urged to reach out to their state court colleagues “from the outset” to try to forge constructive working relationships with them. One way of doing this is to establish an MDL-specific website so that federal orders and rulings are readily available to state courts.
Worth a look for defense counsel with MDL practices.