A federal panel whose members are handpicked by the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to consolidate federal civil cases for discovery is playing an increasingly influential role in how and where large numbers of complex civil cases are litigated throughout the United States.

The seven-member Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decides whether to centralize related cases from different districts as multidistrict litigation (MDL) for pretrial proceedings. It also decides to which single federal district the cases should be transferred.

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