The Effect of Multidistrict Litigation on the Federal Judiciary over the Past 50 Years

43 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2019

See all articles by Margaret S. Williams

Margaret S. Williams

Federal Judicial Center; Visiting Scholar

Date Written: February 5, 2019


Looking over the first 50 years of decisions by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (Panel), this article considers how the work of the Panel has shaped the nature of the dockets of federal courts across the country as well as the individual judges serving on them. Beginning with the proceedings they create, and the hundreds of thousands of cases reassigned by their decision making, this article considers how the type and size of the proceedings have changed and what these changes mean for civil litigation generally. After looking at the number and size of proceedings created, the analysis then moves to a look at the districts assigned these proceedings, considering both the number of proceedings and the number of cases moved across the country. Most importantly, this article assesses the districts (transferee and transferor) most affected by the decisions of the Panel. Lastly, the article examines the judges who have been assigned these proceedings—how many they are assigned, how many cases they manage, and how they have changed as the judiciary evolved over this 50-year period.

Keywords: MDL, federal courts

Suggested Citation

Williams, Margaret S., The Effect of Multidistrict Litigation on the Federal Judiciary over the Past 50 Years (February 5, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Margaret S. Williams (Contact Author)

Federal Judicial Center ( email )

Washington, DC 20002
United States
202-502-4080 (Phone)

Visiting Scholar ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States

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