An Analysis of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation's Selection of Transferee District and Judge
When civil cases involving one or more common questions of fact are pending in multiple district courts, 28 U.S.C. § 1407 empowers the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to centralize the cases in a single district court for pretrial proceedings. If the JPML chooses to centralize a multidistrict action, it possesses broad discretion to select a transferee district and judge. While many litigants believe that the selection of one transferee district or judge over another can significantly impact the outcome of the litigation, they often describe the JPML’s rationale supporting selection as opaque and the resulting selection decision as difficult to predict. In order to clarify the criteria on which the JPML relies when choosing a transferee district and judge, this Note presents an empirical study of several years of JPML transfer orders. This Note argues that, while predicting where the JPML will centralize a multidistrict action is difficult, an understanding of statistical trends in JPML selection of transferee district and judge leads to a better understanding of the factors that are most likely to influence the JPML in any given multidistrict action.