Thursday, March 16, 2017 - The latest Hearing Session Order has been released by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). The order lists all the motions to transfer that will be heard by the JPML and the arguments for and against consolidation from the plaintiffs and defendants in those motions. The JPML will then have to determine in the next week or two whether the motions they heard necessitate consolidated into multidistrict litigation to help expedite the proceedings for an appropriate amount of lawsuits that all share a common question of fact in their allegations.
The Hearing Session Order was originally released on February 14 and details the motions to transfer that will be heard before the JPML in Phoenix, Arizona on March 30. The location of the Hearing Session Orders change every time a hearing session takes place, which occurs roughly once every two months. Following Phoenix, the subsequent hearing sessions will take place in San Antonio, Los Angeles and Boston on May 25, July 27, and September 28, respectively. The hearing session in Phoenix will take place at the Sandra Day O‘Connor United States Courthouse.
A number of motions to transfer will be heard on March 30 before the JPML. One of these is the litigation related to the fraudulent account opening scandal that took place at Wells Fargo and eventually led to the resignation of the company‘s CEO John Stumpf. Another will be antitrust claims made against 1-800-CONTACTS alleging that the company is guilty of price-fixing and anticompetitive behavior. Others include allegations regarding Samsung marketing practices, lawsuits related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and dozens of other actions requiring action on the part of the JPML.
Following the oral arguments, the JPML, which is made up of a select group of federal judges, will deliberate on whether the individual motions to transfer require consolidation. The panel reviews the number of cases in the motion to transfer, how far along the ongoing proceedings have progressed, the common questions of fact pursuant to the litigation, and if the parties involved both support the transfer of the litigation into an MDL. If a judge on the JPML has prior involvement with any of the motions to transfer, they voluntarily recuse themselves from this process for those particular motions.
If the panel decides to consolidate the lawsuits, they also determine where the litigation will be sent. MDLs take place before a single federal judge in a U.S. District Court. Usually, the two sides of a lawsuit that is the focus of a motion to transfer will have their own preferences for where they want the actions to be consolidated. This can oftentimes be where the headquarters are located for a particular company or an easy middle ground for nationwide or worldwide participants to meet. These determinations are deliberated and explained in the panel orders. The eventual panel orders that come a week or two after the hearing session inform the parties if their motions have been granted or not, and if so where they will be consolidated to. Both of these determination comes with brief explanations detailing why those conclusions were made.