Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML or the Panel) is a special body within the United States federal court system which manages multidistrict litigation. It was established by Congress in 1968 under 28 U.S.C. § 1407, and has the authority to determine whether civil actions pending in two or more federal judicial districts should be transferred to a single federal district court for pretrial proceedings. If such cases are determined to involve one or more common questions of fact and are transferred, the Panel will then select the district court and assign a judge or judges to preside over the litigation. The purpose of the transfer or "centralization" process is to conserve the resources of the parties and their counsel, as well as the judiciary, thus avoiding duplication of discovery and preventing inconsistent pretrial rulings.
The Chief Justice of the United States appoints the members of the Panel, which is composed of no more than seven district and/or court of appeals judges, each of whom must be from a different judicial circuit. In addition to their participation on the Panel, the members continue to serve as judges for the courts to which they were originally appointed. The Panel convenes hearings in various locations around the country to facilitate the participation of parties and their counsel. The Office of the Clerk of the Panel is located in Washington, D.C.
As of September 30, 2015, the Panel has centralized 1,640 dockets involving more than 550,000 individual cases. There have been over 1,015 additional docket requests that were not centralized. These dockets encompass litigation categories as diverse as securities fraud, drugs and other products liability cases, intellectual property infringement, antitrust law violations, airplane crashes, employment practices and consumer data security breaches. Additional statistical information can be found at the Panel's official site.
Current composition of the Panel
The following members comprise the panel: