Photo of Christina Maria Assi

Christina Maria Assi is an associate in the Litigation Department. She focuses on complex civil and commercial litigation matters, including products liability and partnership disputes. Christina has represented clients in state and federal courts across the country and advised clients in connection with requests for information from regulatory authorities. Christina has experience preparing for trials, briefing dispositive and pre-trial motions, assisting in taking and defending depositions, and preparing for witness examinations. Christina has previously represented a medical device manufacturer in connection with complex and multi-plaintiff products liability actions in all phases of litigation, including discovery and trial preparation.

Christina graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center. While at Georgetown, Christina served as symposium editor for the Georgetown Environmental Law Review.

When product liability actions involving one or more common issues of fact (e.g., an allegedly harmful product or chemical) are filed in multiple jurisdictions, they are typically consolidated for pretrial proceedings in a multidistrict litigation (MDL). 28 U.S.C. § 1407(a). In an MDL, the lawsuits are transferred from their filing courts to a single “transferee” Court (the MDL Court) chosen by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). The purposes of this centralization are to avoid duplication of discovery, to prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, and to conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary. For example, overarching issues of law, such as preemption admissibility of common-issue expert opinions, are often resolved by the MDL Court instead of needing to be re-litigated in several different courts. Additionally, MDL Courts can hold bellwether trials to help the parties structure a global settlement process to resolve many or all of the filed cases.

Federal court judges in California are facing a crisis caused by expanding caseloads coupled with increasing vacancies in judicial seats that remain unfilled. United States District Court Judge Dale A. Drozd of the Eastern District of California recently took matters into his own hands. After three other judges in the Eastern District assumed Senior status or inactive Senior status in the course of two months, Judge Drozd took over Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill’s criminal docket and a portion of Judge O’Neill’s civil docket in addition to his own. The combined docket amounts to roughly 1,050 civil actions and 625 criminal defendants. To address the ongoing “judicial emergency,” Judge Drozd issued a civil Standing Order implementing new “temporary procedures” in early February. (Judge Drozd also issued a criminal standing order, which is not the subject of this post.) In the Standing Order, Judge Drozd prefaced the changes by explaining the track record of the Eastern District as one of the top 10 districts in the country in cases terminated per judgeship for over 20 years. He also noted that the population in the Eastern District has more than tripled since 1978, but the number of judicial seats remains the same. For now, the Standing Order only applies to the cases over which Judge Drozd presides, though the problems it seeks to address are suffered by all judges in the District (and beyond).