The Judicial Panel on Multi-district Litigation (JPML) just consolidated two product liability cases that we have blogged about, recently.
Fixodent and Poligrip Denture Cream, MDL 2051, was approved June 9. The GlaxoSmithKline Poligrip Defendants (SmithKline Beecham Corp., GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare LLC, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, LP, and Block Drug Company, Inc.) supported the Plaintiffs’ motion for consolidation, while the Proctor and Gamble Fixodent Defendants (The Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Co. and The Procter & Gamble Distributing LLC) opposed consolidation. The JPML sent the cases (currently including 12 actions in 11 districts, plus seven tag-along actions) to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida under the guidance of Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga.
Fleet Oral Sodium Phosphate Solutions, MDL 2066, was approved on June 23 (see our previous blog). The motion was made by the sole Defendant, C.B. Fleet, which requested consolidation of all 38 cases spread across 16 district courts (in addition to seven tag-along actions). The JPML ordered that these cases be shipped to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, to be presided over by Judge Ann Aldrich. This is the same court where the Gadolinium litigation is located (though the Gadolinium cases are before Judge Polster).
We are usually proponents of MDL consolidation and centralization. When sent to a good judge, the system can be very efficient and saves judicial resources and client costs (not to mention, a judge can be a strong proponent of settlement when the cases justify it). Under an MDL, all generic and common discovery can be completed early, then individual cases are usually sent back to their home states for case-specific discovery. This is also a good “holding area” for cases–plaintiffs can have their cases filed, and law firms are not overwhelmed (as they frequently are with drug and device litigation) with too many individual cases going at the same time. In those cases, lawyers spend a lot of time traveling between case management conferences, and it’s hard to get actual work done. MDL consolidation solves that problem because one judge oversees all cases, and case-specific conferences are seldom necessary. Furthermore, it avoids inconsistent rulings and puts all cases in the same discovery posture.