Considerations in Choosing Counsel for Multidistrict
Litigation Cases and Mass Tort Cases
The Honorable Stanwood R. Duval, Jr.∗
The Eastern District of Louisiana has been a magnet for
significant multidistrict litigation (MDL) cases and mass tort cases,
particularly in the past ten years.1 For example, Judge Eldon Fallon
has presided over the Vioxx, Propulsid, and Chines e-Manufactured
Drywall MDL cases.2 The Deepwater Horizon incident involving
British Petroleum Company, Transocean, and others is currently
lodged before Judge Carl Barbier.3 Judge Kurt Engelhardt has been
handling the FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Products Liability
Since 2005, I have presided over In re Katrina Canal Breaches
Consolidated Litigation, or the so-called “Katrina Umbrella,” under
which hundreds of cases were consolidated for pretrial litigation
purposes, as well as for trial of certain exemplar cases.5 The Katrina
Umbrella is unique in that a number of different categories of
litigation were included therein.6 Any complaint filed that was in any
way related to damages arising as a result of a levee or floodwall
breach was consolidated into the Katrina Umbrella and t hen placed in
a specific category.7
Though these are just a few examples, a multitude of MDL cases
have occurred and continue to occur in the Eastern District.8
Therefore, as a result, this District has a great deal of experience in
Copyright 2014, by THE HONORABLE STANWOOD R. DUVAL, JR.
∗ Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
1. James C. Gulotta & Lauren E. Gods hall, Multidistrict Litigation in New
Orleans: Why the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation F requently Favors the
City that Care Forgot, U.S. LAW WEEK, Nov. 2, 2010, at 1.
2. In re Vioxx Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 1657, 2005 WL 756742 (E.D. La.
Feb. 18, 2005); In re Propulsid Prods. Liab. Litig., 208 F.R.D. 133 (E.D. La. 2002);
In re Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL 2047, 2012 WL
92498 (E.D. La. Jan. 10, 2012).
3. In re Oil Spill by Oil Rig “Deepwater Hori zon” in the Gulf of Mex., on
Apr. 20, 2010, MDL 2179, 2013 WL 144042 (E.D. La. Jan. 11, 2013).
4. In re FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Prods. Liab. Litig., 583 F. Supp. 2d 758
(E.D. La. 2008).
5. In re Katrina Canal Breaches Consol. Litig., 647 F. Supp. 2d 644 (E.D. La.
6. See 5th Circuit Upholds Government’s Liability for Katrina Levee Failures,
WESTLAW J. GOV’T CONT., Apr. 2, 2012, at 1, available at 2012 WL 1077662.
7. Id. “The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louis iana
consolidated many of the suits and organized the litigation into several categories of
8. See supra notes 1−4.