imPaneled is pleased to be back, and pleased to be back on the lead counsel beat in particular, as imPaneled’s recent coverage has been decidedly Panel-centric. But our reaction to recent lead counsel news is less pleasure than disappointment, as a court that raised our hopes by venturing well outside the box has lowered them by putting at least one foot back in the box.
imPaneled takes you back to yesteryear to explain that metaphor. The many readers who view imPaneled as something akin to scripture surely recall a post from around this time last year, in which we lauded Chief Judge David Herndon (S.D. Ill.) for appointing truly interim lead counsel in MDL 2385, In re Pradaxa Products Liability Litigation. As we reported at the time: “His Chief Honor appointed five (that’s 5, or in Roman, V) co-lead counsel, and added 22 other ‘leadership’ positions for good measure. That’s the bad news.” B. Cohen, Lead Counsel Shall Make Money the Old-fashioned Way–They Shall Earrrrrrrrrn It, imPaneled, Oct 5. 2012 (available at . . . right here).
We’ll quote His Honor for what appeared at the time to be good news: “The Court has serious concerns about the large size of this leadership group. . . . Because of the Court’s concerns with the size, the appointments above are for the period to expire October 31, 2013. The Court will accept new applications no later than October 1, 2013.” Those dates have passed, and His Honor did in fact issue an order accordingly. But his concerns about the size of the group are apparently not what they were a year ago. The “new” leadership group is identical in size to the old one and, with the exception of one position on the low-ranking “steering committee,” identical in composition.* The recent order does not explain His Honor’s reasoning, and the re-bidding process transpired off the record, so we will not be further enlightened absent inside information from the counsel involved (who are more than welcome to further enlighten us).
We had high hopes for massive cuts and perhaps some reshuffling this year when His Honor issued his order last year. That was not to be. But the order in all likelihood induced everyone named on it to be at least marginally more productive and cooperative than they otherwise would have been. So our kudos to His Honor remain intact. We encourage him and his colleagues to continue to venture outside the box in the future.
* – imPaneled leaves it to diligent readers to identify the sole soul–and an unlucky soul at that–who missed the cut.