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Journal of Tort Law

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Editorial Board Member: Geistfeld, Mark A / Goldberg, John / Perry, Ronen / Sharkey, Catherine M. / Witt, John / Zipursky, Benjamin

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Repeat Players in Federal Multidistrict Litigation

Margaret S. Williams
  • Corresponding author
  • Federal Judicial Center, Washington, DC, USA
  • Email:
/ Emery G. Lee III
  • Federal Judicial Center, Washington, DC, USA
  • Email:
/ Catherine R. Borden
  • Federal Judicial Center, Washington, DC, USA
  • Email:
Published Online: 2014-04-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jtl-2014-0011


In Mass Torts in a World of Settlement, Richard Nagareda noted the importance of the highly specialized bar in creating the existing multidistrict litigation (MDL) landscape. In fact, Nagareda argues that mass torts “accentuate the role of lawyers as agents” who make and enforce a “grand, all-encompassing peace” (2007, p. ix). The influence this bar wields is so great that much of the book is dedicated to discussing potential limits on these administrators. Similarly, the emergence of a specialized segment of the bar is noted by several scholars of MDL, but there has been little systematic research. Using social network analysis, we look to address this issue by examining clusters of plaintiff attorneys over time. We find that the bar is really broken into two groups: generalists, working in several types of MDL proceedings, and specialists, those who tend to focus on a single type of MDL. These findings suggest not all types of proceedings operate in the same way. Moreover, we find that there is significant variation among proceedings in the pace at which specialized lawyers join the litigation.

Keywords: Multidistrict litigation; repeat players; network analysis

About the article

Published Online: 2014-04-17

Published in Print: 2012-01-01

Citation Information: Journal of Tort Law J. Tort Law, ISSN (Online) 1932-9148, ISSN (Print) 2194-6515, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jtl-2014-0011. Export Citation

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