JPML Declines MDL for Samsung Galaxy Smartphone Lawsuits

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has denied a request to consolidate all lawsuits over the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Following reports of nearly 100 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone lithium ion batteries overheating, including at lest two dozen reports of burn injuries and other reports involving property damage, the electronics manufacturer issued a massive recall last year impacting nearly 2.5 million devices.

A number of product liability lawsuits and class action claims have been filed, alleging that Samsung sold a defectively designed and manufactured product.

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A group of plaintiffs filed a motion to transfer all cases to a single judge as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which is designed to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

Following a hearing last month, the U.S. JPML issued an order denying transfer (PDF) on April 5, indicating that there are currently too few cases filed, and differences in the cases that do not warrant consolidation.

“At oral argument, all counsel stated that they were amenable to coordinating discovery to eliminate duplicative depositions and document productions,” the JPML noted. “In these circumstances, alternatives to centralization, such as informal cooperation among the relatively few involved attorneys and coordination among the involved courts, are eminently feasible and will be sufficient to minimize any potential for duplicative discovery or inconsistent pretrial rulings.”

In December, Samsung noted that about 93% of the smartphones sold to consumers had been returned. It then sent out a software update that was designed to disable the remaining devices, which will prevent them from being recharged and eliminated their ability to work as a mobile device.

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