Brian Pastuszenski, senior partner and co-chair of Goodwin Procter’s Securities Litigation and SEC Enforcement Practice, recently spoke at an invitation-only conference on multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) best practices sponsored by the Duke Law School Center for Judicial Studies. Complex litigation involving common factual issues and common defendants – including securities, products liability, and consumer litigation – is often filed in multiple courts across the country, and these litigations are frequently centralized before a single federal district judge by the federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (known as the “JPML”). The purpose of the Duke MDL conference was to bring together judges and practitioners and draw on their diverse experience and expertise in different types of complex litigation to develop a manual of “best practices” for federal judges presiding over MDLs.
Mr. Pastuszenski spoke on (and moderated) panel one, which addressed issues relating to centralization by the JPML of different cases in a single MDL proceeding and the process for selecting the particular federal district court and presiding judge for an MDL proceeding. Mr. Pastuszenski’s panel was one of six blue ribbon panels at the conference.
The Duke MDL conference drew more than 100 participants, including thirteen federal and state judges. Among the attendees were the current chairman of the federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, federal judges responsible for overseeing some of the largest MDLs in recent history, in-house counsel from prominent financial institutions and pharmaceutical companies, and leading members of the plaintiff and defense bars in fields ranging from securities litigation to mass torts.
“The MDL conference and the resulting manual on best practices are a rare chance for judges and lawyers on all sides of the issues to share their views about how best to achieve the consistency and efficiency that are the overarching goals of multidistrict litigation proceedings,” said Mr. Pastuszenski, who is lead defense counsel in one of the country’s largest securities litigation MDLs. “There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to managing complex MDL proceedings,” Mr. Pastuszenski commented. “Although each judge handling an MDL proceeding must use his or her best judgment,” he observed, “the Duke Center for Judicial Studies and this conference have helped spur the collective thinking of both judges and practitioners around practices that are worthy of consideration by judges managing MDLs.”
Dan Roeser, a partner in Goodwin Procter’s Securities Litigation and SEC Enforcement Practice, also attended the conference.