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Panel Seeks to Streamline, Consolidate Oil Spill Litigation
August 03, 2010
Updated: August 12, 2010 – The work of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has been in the spotlight recently because of filings related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The JPML has played a key role in coordinating and consolidating large-scale federal civil litigation since the panel was created by Congress more than 40 years ago.
On Aug. 10, the panel issued a Transfer Order (pdf) regarding oil spill cases, consolidating actions pending in seven districts at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans.
Since its creation, the panel has considered more than 300,000 cases and millions of claims in litigation stemming from airplane crashes, hotel fires, securities fraud, and harm allegedly caused by asbestos and prescription drugs.
The seven judges who serve on the JPML are appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States. They determine when to transfer and centralize civil actions pending in different federal districts. Such transfers of cases that contain sufficiently common questions of act avoid duplication of discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, and conserve resources of the parties, counsel, and the Judiciary.
Learn more about the JPML and its work here.
You can read our interview with U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn of Louisville, Ky., who chairs the panel. Judge Heyburn also provides a more in-depth look at the JPML’s work in a law review article (pdf).