Mass tort litigation has been with us for about fifty years. This is dating the start from the MER/29 litigation in 1964. This field of law and practice has grown year after year, and it shows no sign of abating. At the same time, it can be said that this area of law and procedure has reached a mature stage; the practice is fairly standardized and earlier experiments have either become the model or have been abandoned.

The term “mass tort litigation” (MTL), as used in this article, confines itself to product liability personal injury cases involving similar injuries from exposure to the same product and resulting in multiple claimants. “Multiple” may be as small as a hundred, but may also amount to 50,000, 100,000, or more. Thus, excluded from direct examination in this paper are consumer economic suits, often commenced in a class action format, and toxic tort lawsuits dealing with localized pollution.

Mass tort litigation is as much a procedural topic as a substantive one. While there are some law issues specific to mass tort litigation, the greater area of development has been in the adaptation or invention of procedural mechanisms to the management of the cases in their organization, their development, and their disposition. The three phases just listed—organization, development, and disposition–form the three main sections of this article.