Mississippi created mini-MDLs or more appropriately, mini-MCLs. The Mississippi Supreme Court amended Rule 42 of the Rules of Civil Procedure on September 25, 2014. The Court added a new section designed to permit the consolidation of similar cases with similar facts that are pending in counties that are within a single judicial district (either chancery or circuit). Those of you familiar with traditional Multi-District Litigation (MDL) practice know this is a special federal procedure that combines cases filed in many different federal court districts, generally throughout the country, and consolidates all pre-trial proceedings under one federal judge in order to coordinate and efficiently manage cases that share common issues. The Mississippi Supreme Court has essentially adopted this approach as it relates to cases pending in multiple counties within a single Circuit or Chancery district. It will be interesting to see how this new “Multi-County Litigation” platform is utilized by the bench and bar.
Here is the Rule: 42(c) Counties Within a Single Circuit or Chancery Court District: When civil actions involving common questions of fact or law are pending in different counties of a single Circuit or Chancery Court district, such actions may be consolidated for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings and, if the actions do not involve trials by jury, may be consolidated for all purposes. All judges presiding over the cases to be consolidated must agree to the consolidation and to the judge who will preside over the cases for the purposes stated herein. For the purposes of this rule, “pretrial proceedings” means all matters presented to the judge prior to trial except dispositive motions.