MULTIDISTRICT LITIGATION ACT OF 2000
(House of Representatives - December 15, 2000)

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[Pages H12513-H12514]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                  MULTIDISTRICT LITIGATION ACT OF 2000

  Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee 
on the Judiciary be discharged from further consideration of the bill 
(H.R. 5562) to amend title 28, United States Code, to allow a judge to 
whom a case is transferred to retain jurisdiction over certain 
multidistrict litigation cases for trial, and ask for its immediate 
consideration in the House.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Florida?
  Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Speaker, reserving the right to object, I yield to the 
gentleman to explain the bill and his proposed amendment.
  Mr. McCOLLUM. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, the bill that is under consideration is derived from the 
base text of section 2 of H.R. 2112, which the House passed by voice 
vote under suspension of the rules on September 13, 1999. I should 
therefore note that the relevant legislative history of H.R. 2112, 
section 2, as set forth in House Report 106-276, serves as a 
legislative history for H.R. 5562.
  H.R. 5562 responds to a 1998 Supreme Court decision pertaining to 
multidistrict litigation, the so-called Lexecon case. The bill would 
simply amend the multidistrict litigation statute by explicitly 
allowing a transferee court to retain jurisdiction over referred cases 
for trial for the purposes of determining liability and punitive 
damages, or to refer them to other districts as it sees fit. 
Compensatory damages would still be determined by the State or Federal 
referral courts pursuant to compromise language developed by the 
gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) and the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Berman). The legislation is wholly consistent with past 
judicial practice of nearly 30 years under the multidistrict litigation 
statute.
  This legislation obviously promotes judicial administrative 
efficiency without compromising the rights of litigants and their 
counsel to due process and appropriate compensation. It is strongly 
endorsed by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. I urge my 
colleagues to support it as well.
  As a final point, Mr. Speaker, I will shortly offer a technical 
amendment to the bill based on an observation by counsel for the 
ranking member. H.R. 5562 as introduced inadvertently references a 
nonexistent subsection of title 28 of the U.S. Code. The amendment 
simply strikes this reference.
  I might add that this is the last bill that I will get to manage or 
comment on in this body while I am a Member of Congress. I have enjoyed 
again working with the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Scott). It has been 
a great privilege to be a Member of the House, and it has been a great 
privilege to have been chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime of the 
Committee on the Judiciary during this Congress. And during the last 20 
years it has been a great honor to be here.
  Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Speaker, under my reservation, I would want to express 
my appreciation as I did the last time we were here with what we 
thought was the last piece of legislation that we would be considering. 
The gentleman and I have worked together on the Subcommittee on Crime. 
I have enjoyed that work. We worked in a bipartisan way. Even when we 
did not agree, we were able to constructively work and try to come to 
as much consensus as we could. I wish the gentleman from Florida well 
in the future. Again, I want to express my appreciation for the way we 
were able to work together.
  Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I wish to express my support for H.R. 5562.
  H.R. 5562 consists of Section 2 of H.R. 2112, which the House passed 
by voice vote under suspension of the rules on September 13, 1999. 
Previously, on July 27, 1999 and also by a voice vote, the Committee on 
the Judiciary favorably reported H.R. 2112, including language 
identical to H.R. 5562. On June 16, 1999, the House Judiciary 
Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property held a hearing on H.R. 
2112, and Section 2, on which H.R. 5562 is based, was fully vetted and 
discussed. Therefore, in essence, the House has already fully 
considered H.R. 5562, found it non-controversial, and passed it.
  H.R. 5562 has a very narrow purpose and effect--it would overturn the 
1998 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Lexecon v. Milberg Weiss. 
The Lexecon decision held that a multidistrict litigation transferred 
to a federal court for pretrial proceedings under Section 1407 of the 
Judicial Code cannot be retained by that court for trial purposes under 
Section 1404(a). In so holding, the Lexecon decision upset decades of 
practice by the Multidistrict Litigation Panel and federal district 
courts. The Lexecon decision also increases the cost and complexity of 
such multidistrict litigations by requiring courts other than the 
transferee court, which has overseen discovery and other pretrial 
proceedings, to conduct the trial.
  H.R. 5562 overturns the Lexecon decision in a carefully calibrated 
manner. While H.R. 5562 allows a transferee court to retain a case for 
trial on liability issues and, when appropriate, on punitive damages, 
it creates a presumption that the trial of compensatory damages will be 
remanded to the transferor court. In so doing, H.R. 5562 is careful to 
overturn the Lexecon decision without expanding the power previously 
exercised by transferee courts. More importantly, the presumption 
regarding the trial of compensatory damages ensures that plaintiffs 
will not be unduly burdened in pursuit of their claims.
  Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my reservation of objection.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Florida?
  There was no objection.
  The Clerk read the bill, as follows:

                               H.R. 5562

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Multidistrict Litigation Act 
     of 2000''.

     SEC. 2. MULTIDISTRICT LITIGATION.

       Section 1407 of title 28, United States Code, is amended--
       (1) in the third sentence of subsection (a), by inserting 
     ``or ordered transferred to the transferee or other district 
     under subsection (i)'' after ``terminated''; and
       (2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
       ``(i)(1) Subject to paragraph (2) and except as provided in 
     subsection (j), any action transferred under this section by 
     the panel may be transferred for trial purposes, by the judge 
     or judges of the transferee district to whom the action was 
     assigned, to the transferee or other district in the interest 
     of justice and for the convenience of the parties and 
     witnesses.
       ``(2) Any action transferred for trial purposes under 
     paragraph (1) shall be remanded by the panel for the 
     determination of compensatory damages to the district court 
     from which it was transferred, unless the court to which the 
     action has been transferred for trial purposes also finds, 
     for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and in the 
     interests of justice, that the action should be retained for 
     the determination of compensatory damages.''.

     SEC. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE.

       The amendments made by section 2 shall apply to any civil 
     action pending on or brought on or after the date of the 
     enactment of this Act.


                   Amendment Offered by Mr. MC COLLUM

  Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I offer an amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Amendment offered by Mr. McCollum:

       Page 2, lines 7 and 8, strike ``and except as provided in 
     subsection (j)''.

  Mr. McCOLLUM (during the reading). Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous 
consent that the amendment be considered as read and printed in the 
Record.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Florida?
  There was no objection.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the amendment offered by 
the gentleman from Florida (Mr. McCollum).
  The amendment was agreed to.

[[Page H12514]]

  The bill was ordered to be engrossed and read a third time, was read 
the third time, and passed, and a motion to reconsider was laid on the 
table.

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