If you are one of many people who have been injured by defective or dangerously manufactured products, you may be able to pursue a joint lawsuit with other victims. There are several strategies for consolidating legal plans with other similarly aggrieved plaintiffs. You have probably heard of class action lawsuits against large companies. Another option is through a mass tort case. Multidistrict litigation (MDL) is another way to streamline complex civil lawsuits arising from the same cause of action by consolidating them into one federal district court for pretrial proceedings.
What is MDL and How Can it Help Me as an Injury Victim?
Multidistrict litigation is more common than many people realize, but it is one of the least understood methods of pursuing a consolidated legal claim. Multidistrict litigation is a lawsuit brought by a group of plaintiffs with a similar claim, although it differs from a certified class action lawsuit. In a classic class action lawsuit, all the plaintiffs must have been injured by the same defendant or defendants under the same or similar facts. Sometimes a class action lawsuit is not certifiable because the victims have different types of injuries. In a class action lawsuit, there is one trial that resolves all the cases.
In an MDL, there is not a single trial, but the case is consolidated under a single federal judge. One judge handles all of the discovery matters that are in common for all of the defendants. For example, suppose a company manufactured defective protective glasses and sold them to the military. A group of service members was injured due to the defective product. In that case, the MDL would conduct the discovery process in which witnesses are deposed, and relevant medical experts are questioned and cross-examined. The MDL will conduct a trial deposition in which witnesses provide testimony by videotape.
The judge presiding over the MDL case can select a group of bellwether plaintiffs for the initial trial. These trials are needed because failure to reach a settlement means that parties fundamentally disagree about the relative strengths and weaknesses of their allegations or legal defenses. A few trials may add clarity to the case’s value and help everyone involved to look at the case more realistically in terms of pursuing a settlement.
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The Pros and Cons of MDL
Consolidating the discovery process is one of the most important benefits of pursuing an MDL. The discovery process can be the most expensive and time-consuming aspect of litigation. When plaintiffs can consolidate and their attorneys can gather and review the relevant documents together, especially in large medical device and drug litigation, they can lower the costs of extended discovery.
The pharmaceutical or product manufacturing companies who are being sued can avoid the cost of providing documents to each individual plaintiff and their attorney. However, each plaintiff’s attorney still has to develop and prove the causation element of the case. In other words, each plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence was the direct and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s unique injuries.
Many MDL cases do not go to litigation, but instead settle out of court. Generally, these cases will reach a global settlement or may be dismissed if they lack merit. There are some downsides to pursuing MDL litigation. In some cases, a victim will not be compensated as adequately as if they had pursued an individual case. However, compensation can exceed $1 million for some victims. Sometimes attorneys advise avoiding an MDL settlement and taking a case to trial to pursue full compensation for one’s injury or a loved one’s death.
I Was Injured By a Defective Product or Dangerous Drug: Am I Eligible for MDL?
To be eligible for an MDL lawsuit, the group of lawsuits needs to involve one or more common questions of fact. A judicial panel on multidistrict litigation comprised of seven districts and appellate court judges from different circuits will decide by vote whether to create an MDL and to which court to send the case.
Discuss Your Case With a Skilled MDL Attorney
You are not alone if you or your loved one has been injured by a defective product or pharmaceutical drug. The attorneys at Heninger Garrison Davis are here to help. Knowing what steps to take next and what type of lawsuit to pursue can seem overwhelming. Heninger Garrison Davis will walk you through your legal options and help you understand the process. Contact the Alabama product liability Attorneys at Heninger Garrison Davis to schedule a free case evaluation.