Multicounty litigation involves a large number of personal injury cases that are all associated with a single product. The cases share common factual and legal issues. Also, the value of each claim is dependent on the value of all of the other claims.
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Litigation Applications and Terminations
Guidelines and Resources
Directive #02-19 - Multicounty Litigation Guidelines and Criteria for Designation sets forth the procedures for the centralized management of MCL cases.
Court Rule 4:38 established the Multicounty Litigation Program.
Self-represented litigants can use the Civil Case Information Statement when filing in an MCL matter.
Find contacts for multidistrict litigation (MDL) in other states.
MCLs by County
Multicounty Litigation cases are archived by court order. See all archived MCLs.
Notices to the Bar
See all Notices to the Bar related to multicounty litigation.
Out of State Attorneys
Attorneys from other jurisdictions must first comply with pro hac vice admission requirements and pay all required fees before representing clients in the New Jersey courts. Review New Jersey’s pro hac vice requirements in Court Rule 1:21-2 .
With an initial mass tort pleading and every year thereafter as long as the case in which you are involved is pending, a certification must be filed with the court indicating:
- that you are an attorney-at-law holding a plenary license to practice in the State of New Jersey;
- the address of your bona fide out-of-state office;
- that pursuant to Rules 1:20-1(b), 1:28-2 and 1:28B-1(e), all annual fees have been paid to the New Jersey Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection and all required registration statements have been filed;
- that in accordance with Rule 1:21-1(a), a power of attorney has been filed designating the Clerk of the Supreme Court as agent upon whom service of process may be made for all actions, including disciplinary actions; and
- that there are no disciplinary proceedings affecting your standing as a member of the bar in New Jersey or in any other jurisdiction.
The Pro Hac Vice admission order should include:
- [Admitted attorney] shall abide by the New Jersey Court Rules including all disciplinary rules, R. 1:20-1 and R. 1:28-2;
- Admitted attorney] shall consent to the appointment of the Clerk of the Supreme Court as an agent upon whom service of process may be made for all actions against his firm that may arise out of his participation in this matter;
- [Admitted attorney] shall notify the Court immediately of any matter affecting his standing at the bar of any other Court;
- [Admitted attorney] shall have all pleadings, briefs and other papers filed with the Court signed by an attorney of record authorized to practice in this State, who shall be held responsible for them, the conduct of the cause and the admitted attorney herein;
- [Admitted attorney] cannot be designated as trial counsel;
- No delay in discovery, motions, trial, or any other proceeding shall occur or be requested by reason of the inability of [Admitted attorney] to be in attendance;
- [Admitted attorney] must, within 10 days, pay the fees required by R. 1:20-1(b) and R. 1:28-2 and submit affidavits of compliance;
- Automatic termination of Pro Hac Vice admission will occur for failure to make the required annual payment to the Ethics Financial Committee and the New Jersey Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection. Proof of such payment, after filing proof of the initial payment shall be made no later than February of each year.
- Noncompliance with any of these requirements shall constitute grounds for removal;
- A copy of this order shall be served on all parties within seven (7) days.
For questions regarding Pro Hac Vice admission, call theat
Understanding the MCL Process
Each multicounty litigation is handled in one of three counties: Bergen, Middlesex, or Atlantic. The Supreme Court’s Order that designates a multicounty litigation also assigns it to one of those counties. All future cases be filed in that designated county as well. The judge assigned to oversee the MCL will prepare an initial case management order. The order will include:
- the date of the first case management conference;
- direction to counsel regarding issues they should discuss prior to this initial case management conference;
- instructions regarding notices on the Judiciary web page for multicounty litigation;
- instructions regarding contact with the court;
- obligations regarding preservation of records and e-discovery; and
- a process for the appointment of lead and liaison counsel.
The court will work with federal courts that are handling corresponding litigation. This is called multidistrict litigation (MDL) at the federal level. MCL judges also must coordinate discovery efforts with related litigation in other state courts as well. The MCL judge is not bound by any decision from any other jurisdictions.
MCLs usually have scheduled case management conferences every four to six weeks. Normally, the court requires that counsel confer prior to the conferences and submit a proposed joint agenda for each conference. At each conference, the court will
- ask about ongoing discovery issues;
- set a schedule for motion practice regarding any disputes; and
- set a schedule to complete written discovery, depositions, service of general expert reports, and depositions.
The goal is to select a pool of cases to then be made ready for trial. From this pool of trial-ready cases, the court selects representative plaintiffs for bellwether trials. The bellwether trials assist in the settlement or dismissal of all the cases in the MCL litigation. Those trials establish trends or common rulings that can predict a potential outcome for some or all of the remaining cases.
No two MCLs are the same. Each involves different products, and each has its own unique variables. There is no way to predict the length of time any MCL litigation will last.
Typically, the judge that is assigned the MCL will be the judge overseeing the trial of the cases. Some MCL courts have allowed multiple plaintiffs to present their cases in one trial. First, the court must determine that a multi-plaintiff trial can be accomplished without undue prejudice to the defendants.
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