In an unusual cross-jurisdictional cooperative undertaking, a Georgia state court judge has reportedly participated in mediation settlements that resolved the claims of more than 200 plaintiffs who filed suit in federal district court, alleging injury from liquid vitamin supplements. The federal court apparently sought the state judge’s assistance because he was presiding over 60 similar cases. According to a news source, the Total Body Formula liquid supplements, which were recalled in 2008 and are no longer on the market, allegedly caused painful fingernail and toenail loss, severe joint pain and muscle cramps, drastic hair loss, and other problems. Some consumers purportedly experienced severe kidney problems. Because the lawsuits filed in state and federal courts contained many of the same details and allegations, the courts agreed to cooperate on pretrial and dispute-resolution activities.
According to U.S. District Court Judge R. David Proctor, “there is perhaps no area in which state and federal court cooperation is more crucial—and has the potential to enjoy the most success—than that in the area of complex, multijurisdictional litigation.”
Proctor praised Georgia Judge Alvin Wong for serving as “an integral part of the judicial settlement conferences we conducted in these cases” and making “real and substantial efforts that contributed to the settlements.” Among other matters, the federal court created an electronic document repository for use in both federal and state court cases, and all parties were apparently allowed to participate in the depositions of key witnesses. Different rules of procedure and evidence applicable in the state and federal systems reportedly created no problems for the courts and counsel. See Law.com, August 23, 2010.