Documenting and Seeking Solutions to Mass-Tort MDL Problems

Documenting and Seeking Solutions to Mass-Tort MDL Problems

The Duke Law Judicial Studies Center will hold a Distinguished Lawyers conference on Documenting and Seeking Solutions to Mass-Tort MDL Problems in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 26-27, 2018. If you are interested in attending, please send a brief description of your mass-tort MDL experience and reasons for attending the conference to

The purpose of the April 26-27 conference is to identify specific mass-tort MDL problems, document them, and discuss which remedies make most sense: rules, legislation, official guidance, or maintaining status quo.  The work of the conference is intended to better inform national policymakers who are actively studying ways on how best to handle mass-tort MDLs.

The Senate is considering House-passed H.R. 985, which contains several provisions governing mass-tort MDLs.  And at its November meeting, the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rules decided to appoint a subcommittee to study mass-tort MDL problems and third-party financing issues in the next 6-12 months and then recommend whether the rules should be amended. Both legislative and rulemaking efforts will be much better informed if specific problems or issues with mass-tort MDLs are identified and documented.

The conference focuses on gathering data and other evidence on seven specific mass-tort MDL problems or issues.

  1. Critical issues decided by transferee judge in MDL or in bellwether trials that should be subject to prompt appeal (interlocutory)
  2. Number of cases centralized in MDL that should not have been included in the first instance
  3. Inconsistencies among transferee judges in designating number of PSC members and percentage of common benefit fund
  4. Inconsistencies and confusion caused in MDLs with multiple class actions
  5. Lack of control by non-leadership plaintiff lawyers over their own client cases
  6. Payment of lawyer fees under Rule 23 in class actions wrapped up in MDLs
  7. Third-party financing
  8.  Other problems and issues

In addition to registering for the conference, please consider forwarding any documentation regarding any of these problems to  We will post the materials on the conference materials website.

A total of 15 federal judges and 75-100 practitioners are expected to attend the conference. This is an opportunity for counsel experienced in mass-tort MDLs to share their experiences with real-life mass-tort MDLs, so that national policymakers can be better informed in making their decisions.

Active interaction among judges, practitioners, and law professors in an intimate environment is a hallmark of every Duke Law’s Distinguished Lawyers Conference.  At the conference, we will ask that each panelist report on actual problems in named MDLs.  We will then open it up to general discussion on the best way to handle the problem.  All conferees are expected to participate in the discussion.

To encourage frank discussions, 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.”

Registration Fee.  The “early–bird” special registration fee is $1,100 for registrations submitted no later than March 23, 2018.  The registration fee increases to $1,250 for all registrations submitted after March 23, 2018.

CLE ─ Nine (9) credit hours have been applied for in North Carolina and Georgia.  If you are a practicing attorney in North Carolina or Georgia, your CLE hours will be submitted for you.  Attorneys from other states will receive a “Certificate of Attendance” and a completed “Uniform Application for Accreditation” form after the conference in order to submit CLE hours for your state.