First Annual Mass-Tort MDL Flash Points

Challenges for the Next Generation of Transferee MDL Judges (Invitation-Only) Conference

This conference is open by invitation only. It has been rescheduled because of the coronavirus and will be held on September 30-October 1, 2021. If you have experience in a mass-tort MDL leadership position and are interested in an invitation, please send a request to be invited along with a short description of your MDL experience here

Join the James F. Humphreys Complex Litigation Center for a historic, invitation-only conference with 50 federal judges and 75 plaintiff and defense lawyers at GW Law. No conference held by the government or academic or other institution brings together so many federal judges and practicing lawyers to focus on a single litigation issue of national importance.

 

 

This conference will help shape the decision making of the new generation of MDL transferee judges, arming them with information about how they can most effectively and fairly manage these actions, informed by the wisdom of experienced MDL judges, practicing counsel, and learned scholars.

MDLs have replaced class actions as the principal mode of aggregate litigation. But unlike class actions, which are governed by specific Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, MDLs have no official rules to guide the bench and bar.  Therefore, MDL transferee judges are compelled to fashion new practices and procedures out of whole cloth in every MDL to address the unique circumstances and challenges presented by their assigned MDL. The judges' task is all the more difficult, because federal judges assigned MDLs most often have never previously handled one. By bringing together practicing lawyers, scholars, and judges, all can learn from each other on how best to manage the difficult issues arising in them.

The importance of mega mass-tort MDLs is clear and cannot be overstated. Each contains more than 1,000 individual cases. Hundreds of lawyers are actively involved in every action. Multi-million and even billion-dollar settlements in these actions are not unusual. MDLs' impact steadily grows, especially after the centralizing of 200,000 cases in the 3M Earplug MDL. Mega mass-tort MDLs now represent more than one-half of all civil cases pending in the federal courts.

On the first day of the two-day conference, six panels of plaintiff and defendant lawyers will address recurring MDL issues moderated by six preeminent law school professors, identifying MDL practices that were successful and practices that were not so successful. The lawyers attending the conference will have an opportunity to add their own insights about other practices and procedures. Only judges will attend the second day. Ten experienced MDL judges will respond in six panels moderated by six professors to the insights and concerns raised the preceding day by the lawyers. The judges will then drill down into specific issues, led by the law professors.

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 and is designed to provide a helpful forum for the development of best practices, academic scholarship, and discussion at the judges' annual fall Breakers conference. The conference is made possible by lawyer conference-registration fees and the generous contributions of sponsors.


Registration

The registration fee for Thursday’s one-day conference for lawyers is $999, and incudes conference materials, a continental breakfast, coffee breaks, lunch, grab-and-go snacks on Thursday, and a reception on Thursday evening.


Registration

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.

Day One

7:30 am − 8:30 am: Breakfast (Jack Morton Auditorium)

8:30 am −  8:45 am: Welcoming Remarks

8:45 am − 9:45 am: Panel 1 − Appointment of Steering and Other Committees; Common Benefit Fund

  • Lynn Baker (Moderator) 
  • Lori Andrus
  • Elizabeth Cabraser
  • Adam Levitt
  • Joe Rice

9:50 am − 10:50 am: Panel 2 − Preemption and Daubert Motions; Third-Party Financing

  • Rick Marcus (Moderator)
  • John Beisner
  • Mark Cheffo
  • James Gotz
  • Keren Menzies

10:50 am − 11:05 am: Break

11:05 am − 12:15 pm: Panel 3 − Plaintiff/Defendant Facts Sheets; Discovery; ESI Protocols

  • Deborah Hensler (Moderator)
  • David Buchanan
  • Christopher Guth
  • John Rosenthal
  • Susan Sharko

12:15 pm − 1:45 pm: Lunch

1:45 pm − 2:45 pm: Panel 4 − Bellwether Selections

  • Jay Tidmarsh (Moderator)
  • William Gage
  • Troy Rafferty
  • Andy Birchfield 
  • Brennan Torregrossa

2:50 pm − 3:50 pm: Panel 5 − Judicial Approaches to Settlement

  • Brian Fitzpatrick (Moderator)
  • Chris Seeger
  • James Holston
  • Ted Mayer
  • Dianne Nast 

3:50 pm − 4:05 pm: Break

4:05 pm −  5:15 pm: Panel 6 − State Courts Coordination; Claims Administration Process

  • Roger Trangsrud (Moderator)
  • Jacksy Bilsborrow
  • Sheila Birnbaum
  • Dustin Mire

6 pm − 7 pm: Reception

7 pm − 9 pm: Dinner

Day Two

7:30 am − 8:30 am: Breakfast (Jacob Burns Moot Courtroom) 

8:30 am − 9:20 am: Panel 1 − Appointment of Steering Committee and Other Committees; Common Benefit Fund

  • Lynn Baker (Moderator)  
  • Judges (TBA) 

9:25 am − 10:15 am: Panel 2 − Preemption and Daubert Motions; Third-Party Financing

  •   Rick Marcus (Moderator)   
  •  Judges (TBA)

10:15 am − 10:30 am: Break

10:30 am − 11:20 am: Panel 3 − Plaintiff/Defendant Facts Sheets; Discovery; ESI Protocols

  •   Deborah Hensler (Moderator)    
  • Judges (TBA)

11:25 am − 12:20 pm: Panel 4 − Bellwether Selections

  •   Jay Tidmarsh (Moderator)   
  •  Judges (TBA)

12:20 pm − 1:30 pm:  Lunch

1:30 pm −  2:20 pm: Panel 5 − Judicial Approaches to Settlement

  •   Brian Fitzpatrick (Moderator)    
  • Judges (TBA)

2:25 pm − 3:15 pm:  Panel 6 − State Courts Coordination; Claims Administration Process  

  • Roger Trangsrud (Moderator) 
  • Kenneth Feinberg
  •   Judges (TBA) 

Judges

  • Hon. Eldon Fallon, ED Louisiana
  • Hon. Charles Breyer, ND California
  • Hon. Robert Miller, ND Indiana
  • Hon. Eduardo Robreno, ED Pennsylvania
  • Hon. Casey Rodgers, ND Florida 
  • Hon. Edmund Sargus, ND Ohio 
  • Hon. John Tunheim, D Minnesota 
  • Hon. Vince Chhabria, ND California

Lawyers

Plaintiff

  • Adam Levitt, DiCello Levitt 
  • Dianne Nast, Nast Law
  • Chris Seeger, Seeger Weiss 
  • Joe Rice, Motley Rice
  • Jacksy Bilsborrow, Weitz & Luxenberg 
  • James Gotz, Hausfeld
  • Troy Rafferty, Levin Law
  • Elizabeth Cabraser, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein
  • Lori Andrus, Andrus Anderson 
  • Andy Birchfield, Beasley Allen
  • Karen Barth Menzies, Gibbs Law Group

Defendant

  • John Beisner, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
  • Jim Holston, Merck
  • Chris Guth Bayer
  • Brennan Torregrossa, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Ted Mayer, Hughes Hubbard 
  • Sheila Birnbaum, Dechert 
  • John Rosenthal, Winston & Strawn     
  • Mark Cheffo, Dechert
  • Susan Sharko, Faeger Drinker Biddle & Reath
  • William Gage, Butler Snow 

Experts

  • Dustin Mire, Postlethwaite & Netterville
  • Ken Feinberg

Law Professors

  • Prof. Baker, Lynn, Univ. of Texas
  • Prof. Marcus, Rick, Hastings
  • Prof. Hensler, Deborah, Stanford
  • Prof. Tidmarsh, Jay, Notre Dame
  • Prof. Fitzpatrick, Brian, Vanderbilt
  • Prof. Trangsrud, GW Law

GENERAL PARTICIPANTS

Judges

  • Hon. Adelman, Lynn, ED Wisconsin
  • Hon. Arleo, Madeline, D New Jersey
  • Hon. Baker, Kristine, ED Arkansas
  • Hon. Bates, John, District of Columbia
  • Hon. Baylson, Michael, ED Pennsylvania 
  • Hon. Beetlestone, Wendy, ED Pennsylvania 
  • Hon. Berg, Terrence, ED Minnesota
  • Hon. Berger, Irene, SD West Virginia
  • Hon. Blake, Catherine, D Maryland
  • Hon. Blakey, John, ND Illinois
  • Hon. Bough, Steven, WD Missouri
  • Hon. Byron, Paul, MD Florida
  • Hon. Cain, James, WD Louisiana
  • Hon. Childs, Michelle, D South Carolina
  • Hon. Cooke, Marcia, SD Florida
  • Hon. Conrad, Robert, WD Virginia
  • Hon. Conti, Joy, WD Pennsylvania 
  • Hon. Dalton, Roy, MD Florida
  • Hon. Deavers, Elizabeth Preston, SD Ohio
  • Hon. Donnelly, Ann, ED New York
  • Hon. Doughty, Terry, WD Louisiana
  • Hon. Drain, Gershwin, ED Michigan
  • Hon. Eagles, Catherine, MD North Carolina
  • Hon. Falk, Mark, D New Jersey
  • Hon. Fitzwater, Sydney, ND Texas 
  • Hon. Gibney, John ED Virginia
  • Hon. Hanks, George, SD Texas 
  • Hon. Hicks, Maury, WD Louisiana
  • Hon. Hogan, Tom, District of Columbia 
  • Hon. Howell, Beryl, D of Columbia
  • Hon. Hall, Janet, D of Connecticut
  • Hon. Higginbotham, Patrick, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals 
  • Hon. Kallon, Abdul, ND Alabama
  • Hon. Jackson, Brian, MD Louisiana
  • Hon. Jones, Gary, ND Florida
  • Hon. Mazzant, Amos, ED Texas
  • Hon. Pauley, William, SD NY
  • Hon. Smith, Brooks, Third Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Hon. Watson, Michael, SD Ohio

Founding Patron
Western Alliance Bank (2020-21)

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

Elite Patron
Ankura Consulting Group
The Moskowitz Law Firm

Patron
Morgan & Morgan


Contributor Sponsor
Postlethwaite & Netterville
Massive Lien Resolution

Collaborator Sponsor
Angeion Group, Collaborator Sponsor

 

James F. Humphreys Complex Litigation Center