Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

MDL Transferee Court Can't Entertain Self-Assignment

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

MDL Transferee Court Can't Entertain Self-Assignment

Article excerpt

Ending a practice that had gone on in federal courts, the U.S. Supreme Court held that U.S. federal district courts to whom multidistrict litigation has been assigned cannot invoke their assignment power to assign MDL cases to themselves after the completion of pretrial proceedings.

The interaction of two statutory provisions and one court rule was involved. 28 U.S.C. 1407(a) authorizes the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to transfer actions with common issues of fact "to any district for coordinated and consolidated pretrial proceedings" but imposes a duty on the panel to remand the actions to the original district "at our before the conclusion of such pretrial proceedings." On the other hand, 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) states that civil actions involving one or more common questions of fact pending in different districts may be transferred to "any district" for coordinated and consolidated pretrial proceedings. Then, to add another complexity, the Multidistrict Panel's Rule 14(b) allows transferee judges to order transfers to "the transferee or other district."

Lexecon Inc., a law and economics consulting firm, was caught up in the MDL litigation in the District of Arizona that followed the failure of Lincoln Savings, in which it was named a defendant but was dismissed. Lexecon then commenced a diversity action in the Northern District of Illinois against two law firms representing the plaintiffs' in Lincoln Savings, claiming malicious prosecution, abuse of process, tortitous interference, commercial disparagement, and defamation. …

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