In an opinion today, Judge Furman certified for interlocutory appeal a question about calculating economic losses in the GM ignition switch litigation (covered here). One reason for doing so, he ruled, was that in the context of an MDL, where there are powerful pressures to settle, these sorts of questions would never otherwise be the subject of a final judgment that would be heard in an ordinary appeal:
Admittedly, had the questions decided by the Court arisen in the context of simpler, more conventional litigation, the Court would not have found the need for immediate appeal as pressing. In weighing the statutory factors, the Court is mindful that, as a result of certain structural features of large multidistrict litigation, if appellate review of the summary judgment ruling is to be had, it would likely have to be interlocutory. As others have recognized, “the usual object of MDL management, especially with bellwether trials, is to incentivize rational settlements.” And the vast majority of MDL cases are, in fact, resolved by settlement. This result is due, at least in part, to the sheer magnitude of the risk, in terms of dollar value, of trials.
Whatever the reasons for these statistics, the practical reality is that a broad swath of Plaintiffs’ claims are likely to be resolved by settlement, and the value of that settlement will be heavily influenced by the Court’s Opinion and Order. These dynamics, along with others frequently discussed in academic literature, make final judgments rare and district court opinions largely unreviewed (if not unreviewable).
In short, because the issue to be appealed “is a close one,” the consequences of the ruling are “dramatic,” and the likelihood of review after a final judgment slim — due to the pressures exerted by the realities of litigation of this size and complexity — the Court finds it appropriate to resolve doubt in favor of certification