In the 1990’s, the asbestos MDL was loudly denounced as the “black hole,” because of the inordinate time necessary to dispose of actions. Today, terminating all the actions in a single mass-tort or antitrust MDL is taking longer, from six to eight and more years. Are we drifting back to the bad old days of a black hole?
The Center is studying the causes of the added time in disposing of actions in mass-tort MDLs (arbitrarily defined as MDLs with 1,000 or more actions) as well as antitrust MDLs. Preliminary data indicates that the answer is nuanced. Although MDLs may last longer, most of the actions in the mass-tort MDLs are disposed of within four to six years. Nonetheless, many mass-tort MDLs include hundreds of actions, which linger for eight or more years. In general, actions in antitrust MDLs take longer to dispose of. The data in the tables provide some added information on the extent of the problem. Future conferences and studies will continue exploring causes of the delays.
Duration Tables (July 4, 2022) (link) – Three statistical tables showing percentages of pending cases remaining in MDLs
Number of pending and historical actions in 81 separate product liability, antitrust, and privacy and security-data breach MDLs, which consist of or had consisted of 1,000 or more actions, for each year from 2012 to 20232 (June 2023) (link)
Actions pending in product liability and antitrust MDLs for six, seven, eight, and more years (November 2023) (link)