In a unanimous decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court abolished Minnesota’s common-law prohibition against champerty and maintenance, opening Minnesota to third-party litigation financing. Maslowski v. Prospect Funding Partners LLC, et al., A18-1906, 2020 WL 2893376 (Minn. June 3, 2020).
For the less practiced in Middle English, champerty is “an agreement to divide litigation proceeds between the owner of the litigated claim and a party unrelated to the lawsuit who supports or helps enforce the claim” and maintenance is “improper assistance in prosecuting or defending a lawsuit given to a litigant by someone who has no bona fide interest in the case, meddling in someone else’s litigation.” Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019). Today, champerty and maintenance are often associated with third-party litigation financing.
A Kansas District Court recently reinforced that cases alleging claims outside the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) Transfer Order cannot be employed to broaden the scope of the MDL litigation. In reaching that conclusion, the court denied a motion to consolidate a new class-plaintiffs’ lawsuit with a mature multidistrict litigation (MDL).
In August 2017, the JPML created MDL 2785, In re: EpiPen (Epinephrine Injection, USP) Marketing Sales Practices and Antitrust Litigation (EpiPen® MDL). The EpiPen MDL is made up of cases asserting claims of anticompetitive conduct and unfair competition by defendants Pfizer, King Pharmaceuticals, Meridian Medical Technologies and multiple Mylan entities in their marketing and sale of the EpiPen. EpiPen is an epinephrine auto-injector used to treat anaphylaxis — a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen. The JPML assigned the EpiPen MDL to the District of Kansas.