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What happens to a lawsuit after it is transferred to a federal judge by the Panel?

Generally, the transferee court (the MDL court) will set standing orders or pretrial orders informing the lawyers involved of the ground rules, deadlines and procedures the court expects the litigants to follow. Steering committees may be appointed to manage the substance of the litigation and the discovery of facts. In theory, discovery and case management by the MDL court should allow completion of pretrial matters, then the case must be remanded back to the transferor case for trial. The only cases that would not be remanded are those cases originally filed in the court with the MDL judge is seated. In practice, many cases sent to an MDL court are settled at some point in time during the pretrial proceedings. Many suggested procedures for MDL case management are found in the Manual for Complex Litigation, Fourth, from the Federal Judicial Center. Also, Conte & Newberg, Newberg on Class Actions, Third, at Chapter 9 discusses complex case management including MDL consolidations.

Presently there is legislation pending which would allow the MDL court to conduct a trial of cases before it rather than remand the cases. Further discussion in Congress may result in passage of legislation permitting MDL trials of cases not originating in the transferee court. The proposed legislation has been named The Multidistrict Litigation Restoration Act and details are available in HR 1038.
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