Monday, March 15, 2010

Toyota Defective Gas Pedal MDL On the Way?

BNA Law Week reports that the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is considering whether to consolidate defective accelerator cases against Toyota on March 25 ((In re Toyota Motor Corp. Defective Gas Pedal Products Liability Litigation, J.P.M.L., MDL No. 2151, hearing scheduled 3/25/10).  The battle is between cases currently filed in California and those in Louisiana.

How should the MDL Panel decide where the lawsuits should go and if they all need to be in one place? In an article I wrote in 2008 called Recovering the Social Value of Jurisdictional Redundancy, I argued that the Panel should consider an interim measure - consolidating cases regionally rather than nationally in certain cases.  I suggested that the Panel look at the following factors in rendering its decision: (1) the extent of underlying substantive disagreement between circuits on the relevant law, (2) the costs of inconsistency, (3) the role of political power in the dispute.  In the Toyota case, I think all these factors militate in favor of consolidating the case in one forum rather than two or three regional fora.


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