This is a follow-up to last week's post describing the multidistrict litigation process.
Once clients understand the basic mechanics of the MDL process, the next question is: How long will it take?
If someone files a motion for centralization with the MDL Panel today, when will the Panel hear argument and issue its decision, and, if the Panel grants the motion, when will we have the first case management conference before the transferee court?
Happily, Judge John Heyburn, the Chair of the MDL Panel, answered all of these questions in his recent article, "A View From the Panel: Part of the Solution," 82 Tulane L. Rev. 2225 (2008).
First, when will the Panel hear argument on the motion? "In recent years, the Panel has scheduled oral arguments on the fourth Thursday of every other month, beginning in January." Id. at 2235 n.52. So the calculation is this: Look at the day the motion in your case is filed. Allow 20 days for the responsive brief and five days for the reply. Allow a decent time between the close of briefing and the MDL Panel's next hearing date. That date -- the fourth Thursday of January, March, May, July, September, or November -- is when your motion will be heard.
How long after the hearing can I expect a ruling? Although historically the Panel took three to six months to issues its decisions, that is no longer true. In 2008, "Usually within two weeks of oral argument, the Chair has finalized and approved each written opinion pertaining to that session." Id. at 2242 n.88.
(Judge Heyburn also does the arithmetic for you. How long from the filing of the MDL motion to the decision from the MDL Panel? "We have reduced the average time between filing and decisions to about thirteen weeks and lowered the range to between ten and seventeen weeks." Id. at 2242.)
And how long after that decision is issued will it take for the transferee court to collect and docket the records of the transferred cases and set a status conference? "[T]he current range of time from filing of the section 1407 motion seeking creation of a new MDL to the first MDL conference in the transferee court is between sixteen and twenty-nine weeks." Id. at 2243 n.91.
But for the fact that Judge Heyburn did all the work, we'd feel as though we were doing a real public service by publishing this post.
We'll have to comfort ourselves with the thought that we might be doing a public service by helping to spread the word.