Documenting and Seeking Solutions to Mass-Tort MDL Problems
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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 judicialstudies@law.duke.edu.

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.

Six panels at the conference will address the following issues:

Panel 1: Impact of Critical Transferee Judge Decisions Not Subject to Review or Appeal
Panel 2: Inappropriately Filed Cases and Bundling of Filing Fees
Panel 3: No Standards in Determining Optimum Number of PSC Members and Amounts of Common Benefit Fund
Panel 4: No Control Over Client Cases by Non-Leadership Counsel and Concerns About PSC-Member Inventory Settlements
Panel 5: Third-Party Financing and Impact of JPML Selection of Transferee Judge
Panel 6: Transferee Judge’s Authority to Order Specific Procedures, e.g., Establish Common Benefit Fund, and Diversity in PSC Appointments

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

Twelve federal judges have committed to attend the conference (Judges John Bates (Chair, Advisory Committee on Civil Rules), Robert Dow (Chair of Civil Rules MDL Subcommittee), Eldon Fallon, David Herndon, Matthew Kennelly, Clay Land, Robert Miller, Solomon Oliver, Cynthia Rufe, John Tunheim, and Sarah Vance (Chair, Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation)), and another three are expected to be added. Up to 100 practitioners are expected to attend the conference, including members of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules.  Professors Francis McGovern, Duke University School of Law, and Brian Fitzpatrick, Vanderbilt Law School, will moderate.  Professors Ed Cooper, Michigan University School of Law, and Rick Marcus, UC Hastings College of the Law, who are Committee Reporters for the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, also will attend.  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 registration fee is $1,250.

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.