JPML To Hold Oral Arguments By Telephone Due To Ongoing Pandemic

Amid the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the judicial system throughout the United States, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) announced that oral arguments for a hearing later this month will be held by telephone or videoconference.

The panel of federal judges typically holds oral arguments every other month, with hearings set in different U.S. District Courts nationwide, to consider motions to centralize and consolidate various complex litigation involving multiple claims stemming from common questions of fact and law.

According to a Notice of Hearing Session (PDF) issued late last month, the U.S. JPML indicated the hearing scheduled for May 28 will be held at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington, D.C., for the second time in a row. However, unlike prior hearings, this one will be held by videoconference and teleconference instead.

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“Further details regarding how the Hearing Session will be conducted—including sign-in information, allocation of argument times, and a mandatory training session for arguing attorneys—shall be provided after the filing of the parties’ Notices of Presentation or Waiver of Oral Argument,” the order states.

To minimize the spread of COVID-19, many courts nationwide have switched from traditional hearings and face-to-face arguments to virtual hearings, as part of an effort to keep litigation proceedings moving forward amid the pandemic.

The U.S. JPML uses the hearings to evaluate whether cases filed in various different U.S. District Courts nationwide should be transferred to one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings, which is designed to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and serve the convenience of common witnesses, parties and the judicial system.

This month’s hearing session includes oral arguments over whether to centralize and consolidate tractor hydraulic fluid lawsuits, lawsuits over Evenflo car seats, and claims against Nine West and Family Dollar Stores.


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