MDL (Multi-District Litigation) Law and Legal Definition

A device frequently used to consolidate large class actions brought in federal court for pre-trial purposes. When civil actions involving one or more common questions of fact are pending in different districts, such actions may be transferred to any district for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings. Such transfers shall be made by the judicial panel on multidistrict litigation which shall consist of seven circuit and district judges designated from time to time by the Chief Justice of the United States, no two of whom shall be from the same circuit. The concurrence of four members shall be necessary to any action by the panel.

The MDL statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1407 provides a procedure for the consolidation of federal cases pending in different districts that have a common question of fact. The cases are transferred to a common court by an MDL panel for consolidated pretrial hearings. Eventually, the panel remands each case to its court of origin at the conclusion of the pretrial proceedings.