Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act of 2021: The Risk of Antitrust Balkanization

By Marianela Lopez-Galdos, Project-Disco

Antitrust litigation is far from an easy subject but the risk of fragmentation of antitrust litigation deserves some attention given the latest legislative activity happening in the House of Representatives.  This is why it is important to understand why Representative Buck’s ‘State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act of 2021’ bill represents a distortion of the American judicial system with bad spillover effects for the preservation of coherent antitrust litigation outcomes, and thus, the rule of law.

To date, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) plays a critical role in multistate litigation as it provides for the possibility to have a dynamic distribution of cases among judges in the best interest of the case.  The JPML is composed of seven federal district court judges with substantial experience in complex litigation.  As such, the composition of this panel ensures that the venue related decisions affecting cases that undergo the JPML scrutiny process are rigorous and subjected to a high standard decision making the process free of corporate and/or political interference.  The existence of the JPML and the possibility to centralize cases that arise from a common set of facts is essential in a federal judicial system where there is a risk to have contradictory pretrial rulings.  In fact, this process and the ability to move a case to a different venue promotes judicial efficiency and ensures due process rights.  It also ensures that litigation outcomes are coherent and not fragmented on a state by state level.

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