First Annual Mass-Tort MDL Case Law and Practices Review Open Bench-Bar Conference

Join the James F. Humphreys Complex Litigation Center, along with Lawyers for Civil Justice and Mass-Torts-Made-Perfect, as they hold an open bench-bar conference, which will review new practices and emerging problems that have arisen in mass-tort MDLs during the past year. Twelve federal judges and 15 prominent practitioners and other experts in mass-tort MDLs will lead discussions with an expected audience of approximately 75-100 practitioners. 

Click below for more information.

Planning Steering Committee



The conference will examine changes in mass-tort MDL practices and emerging problems during the past 12 months affecting selected issues, which typically arise in these MDLs. The conference will highlight  the impact of  the 3M Earplug mass-tort MDL, which centralized 200,000 cases, the effect of thousands of unfiled cases in other MDLs on ongoing settlement negotiations, and  developments in screening procedures.

Following the conference, the center will develop best practices addressing mass-tort MDL case-management problems identified at the conference. Judges and practitioners attending the conference will be given the first opportunity to join teams drafting these influential mass-tort MDL best practices and guidelines under the auspices of the GW Complex Litigation Center with assistance of its Scholars Council.  The best practices will be the first installment in a compendium of class-action best practices, which will be added after every annual class-action conference.

The conference is held under the Chatham House Rule: "(P)articipants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), or that of any other participant, may be revealed."

The conference is expected to be held annually. Experienced practitioners attending the conference will be considered to be invited as a panelist speaker for a future mass-tort MDL conference. The conference is made possible by lawyer conference-registration fees and the generous contributions of sponsors.


The registration fee is $399. On request, a deeply discounted group deal for up to five individuals is offered at $1,000. If you would like to register a group, please email [email protected], and Navis will contact you with the registration template, along with the invoice for the group registration fee. Register here.


CLE will be applied for in New Jersey. Attorneys 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.

Thursday, June 10, 2021
[All Times — Eastern Time Zone]

11– 11:15 am: Welcoming Remarks

11:15– 12:45 pm: Panel 1 – Trends in JPML Centralization Selections
Subtopic A: Criteria for Selections
Subtopic B: Number of MDLs Trending Down: Causes and Effect

  • Moderator: Professor Robert Klonoff, Lewis & Clark Law School
  • Hon. Karen Caldwell (E.D. Ky.)
  • Hon. Royal Furgeson (Ret.)
  • Alan Rothman, Sidley Austin
  • Kelsey Stokes, Fleming Nolen Jez, LLP

1:30 – 3 pm: Panel 2 — Early Vetting of Claims
Subtopic A: New procedures requiring information at the outset
Subtopic B: Using new information to screen actions and identify potential bellwether candidates

  • Moderator: Professor Elizabeth Burch, University of Georgia Law School
  • Kimberly Branscome, Dechert LLP
  • Ernest Cory, Cory Watson
  • Hon. Robin Rosenberg (S.D. Fla.)
  • Hon. William Orrick (N.D. Cal.)

3:15 – 4:45 pm: Panel 3 – Interlocutory Appeals
Subtopic A: Methods to seek reconsideration or appeal of court ruling and effectiveness
Subtopic B: Issues most likely to be raised on appeal

  • Moderator: Associate Dean Alan B. Morrison, GW Law
  • Hon. Patrick E. Higginbotham (Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit)
  • Rakesh Kilaru, Wilkinson Stekloff
  • Troy Rafferty, Levin Papantonio Rafferty
  • Hon. Edmund Sargus (S.D. Ohio)

Friday, June 11, 2021
[All Times — Eastern Time Zone]

11am – 12:30 pm: Panel 4 – State-Federal Cooperation
Subtopic A: Cooperative procedures adopted by state and federal courts handling similar types of cases in MDLs
Subtopic B: Assessing effectiveness and usefulness of state/federal court coordination

  • Moderator: Professor Charles Silver, University of Texas Law School
  • Paul LaFata, Dechert, LLP
  • Hon. Brian Martinotti (D. N.J.)
  • Michael Miller, The Miller Firm LLC
  • Hon. Freda Wolfson (D. N.J.)

1:15 – 2:45: Panel 5:  Management of MDLs
Subtopic A: Technological innovations used in MDLs, including AI software assessing and projecting settlement values of individual cases
Subtopic B: Informal front- and back-end techniques judges use to affect settlement agreements to assure fairness, especially when separate inventory settlements are involved

  • Moderator: Professor Jay Tidmarsh, University of Notre Dame Law School
  • Orran Brown, BrownGreer, PLC
  • Yvonne Flaherty, Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP
  • Hon. Matthew Kennelly (N.D. Ill.)
  • Kaspar Stofelmayr, BartlitBeck, LLP
  • Hon. Vaughn Walker (Ret.)

3– 4:30 pm: Panel 6 – MDL Leadership Positions
Subtopic A: Diversity in appointments of leadership positions, including lower-tier leadership positions
Subtopic B: Options to handle parties who decline to join inventory or global settlements, other than remand

  • Moderator: Professor Alexandra Lahav, University of Connecticut Law School
  • Alicia Donahue, Shook Hardy & Bacon
  • Elizabeth Fegan, FeganScott
  • Hon. Shira Scheindlin (Ret.) Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, LLP

Information will be provided soon.

Founding Patron
Western Alliance Bank (2020-2021)

Premier Patrons
Technology Concepts & Design, Inc. (TCDI) (2020-21)

Elite Patron 
The Moskowitz Law Firm 


James F. Humphreys Complex Litigation Center