New Multicounty Litigation Application in New Jersey

As many readers know, and as we have discussed in the past, New Jersey has an established program for centralization and coordinated management of cases that is similar in idea to the multidistrict litigation (MDL) procedures that exist at the federal level. Under the New Jersey program, which commonly goes by the acronym “MCL” for “multicounty litigation” because cases can be drawn from all trial-level courts in New Jersey across all counties and centralized, an application can be submitted to the New Jersey Supreme Court by plaintiffs, defendants, and/or the court itself requesting that the cases be assigned to one of several designated MCL judges in various vicinages across the state.

Recently, another such application was submitted on behalf of plaintiffs in roughly 20 pending cases involving the product Strattice, which is a hernia mesh product.

An application seeking centralization of multiply mesh product cases in New Jersey is not novel—there have been several such MCLs created in New Jersey for various mesh products. But what is interesting about this application is its brevity. Unlike several recent prior applications seeking centralization of other groups of cases, this one contains very little in the way of argument or analysis as to why this particular set of cases merits centralization as an MCL. In addition, this application makes no pitch whatsoever as to which MCL judge the cases should be assigned, should MCL status be granted, unlike past applications.

Comments as to the application are open until July 6, 2021, and at some point thereafter the Supreme Court will make its determination. While the court usually does not share the details of its analysis as to why it grants or rejects such applications, if the court does grant this one, it may signal that it is not necessary to provide a detailed analysis when seeking MCL status. Of course, doing so, either in support of or in opposition to such an application, would always seem to be the better and wiser course of action to ensure that the court at least considers all factors that the proponent or opponent deems important.

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