Understanding Multidistrict Litigation in a Mass Tort Lawsuit
Mass tort lawsuits happen when many plaintiffs have similar cases against the same defendant. Occasionally, these lawsuits transfer to multidistrict litigation (MDL). That way, one court can consolidate the discovery and pretrial hearings to save those involved time and money.
If you were hurt due to someone else’s negligence, a lawyer can determine your eligibility to start or join an MDL against the liable party.
What Is a Mass Tort Lawsuit?
A mass tort lawsuit occurs when many people sustain injuries or develop an illness for the same reason. Typically, these lawsuits stem from people developing injuries or illnesses due to defective products, defective or dysfunctional medical devices, or toxic exposure. If a person or business knows their products could cause harm to others but continues to sell them anyway, the victims could file a mass tort lawsuit against them.
These are civil lawsuits where many people bring the same lawsuit against the liable party. Each plaintiff receives their own award for their case. Typically, the compensation someone could receive depends on the severity of their injuries.
Multidistrict Litigation in a Mass Tort Lawsuit
Multidistrict litigation streamlines civil lawsuits where multiple plaintiffs have the same issue. These lawsuits consolidate into a single federal district court during the pretrial proceedings.
Common Mass Tort Multidistrict Litigation Cases
There are several common types of cases that could go through multidistrict litigation. These types of cases include:
- Dangerous drugs: If a pharmaceutical company produces a dangerous drug or doesn’t properly warn consumers of potential hazards, they could face a mass tort lawsuit via multidistrict litigation. Sometimes, side effects from these drugs can happen years later, and people can still hold the drug makers accountable.
- Defective or dysfunctional medical devices: People with certain conditions or illnesses rely on medical devices to stay healthy. If a medical device malfunctions, it could cause extensive harm. Examples of medical devices in mass tort lawsuits include pacemakers, hip replacements, or intrauterine devices (IUDs).
- Employment lawsuits: If many employees within a workplace sustain injuries or develop illnesses, they could file a lawsuit against the liable party. An attorney can investigate the incident to determine why the injuries or illnesses occurred. These cases could go to multidistrict litigation, depending on the size and locations of the cases.
- Toxic exposure: When a large group of people is exposed to toxic substances through the air, liquids, or food, they can file a mass tort lawsuit against the liable party. These cases can transfer to multidistrict litigation when multiple courts deal with similar cases against the same defendant.
Usually, if a person or entity causes harm to a lot of people through these devices, they could face a mass tort lawsuit in multidistrict litigation.
How Multidistrict Litigation Work
There are several steps involved in multidistrict litigation cases. First, a U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation determines if a case should be consolidated as an MDL. If they do, each case will go to one federal district court. The federal court will preside over the following:
- Pretrial motions
- Discovery proceedings
The next step in the case is the courts will choose several trials, known as the bellwether trials. Bellwether trials give the people filing lawsuits an indicator of how much these cases are worth and the favor the court will rule. Typically, when the plaintiffs reach a positive outcome in the bellwether trials, the defendant is more likely to make settlement offers to the other plaintiffs and avoid trials.
Benefits of Multidistrict Litigation
When a person or business commits an act that harms many people, they can file a lawsuit against the liable party. Without multidistrict litigation, the courts would have to hear many similar cases. During multidistrict litigation cases, they are consolidated into one court during pretrial hearings. There are many benefits to this, including the following:
- It saves the judicial system time and resources because similar cases don’t have to get tried in court repeatedly.
- The defendant would have to attend multiple court appearances in all the different courts where plaintiffs brought a case.
- The same evidence can be submitted to the court to prove the defendant acted negligently.
- Each plaintiff can still recover compensation based on their damages and the severity of their injuries since they received their own settlement or award amount.
- Attorneys can combine their resources to build a strong case against the defendant.
The Difference Between Multidistrict Litigation and Class Action Lawsuits
An MDL has similarities to a class action in that it involves many people going after the same defendant. The defendant typically caused harm to multiple people and, therefore, has many lawsuits against them. Product, medical device, and drug manufacturers are typical entities that could be involved in multidistrict litigation or class action lawsuits.
Plaintiffs who go through multidistrict litigation to resolve their cases receive their individual settlements or award. Therefore, multidistrict litigation can benefit these plaintiffs because they could recover compensation that reflects their unique losses.
Plaintiffs who go through class action lawsuits split the settlement amount or award with everyone who filed the class action lawsuit. The attorneys for the class action fight for the group as a whole, not individual clients. Class action lawsuits typically don’t compensate differently based on the severity of the injuries.
A Mass Torts Lawyer Can Represent You Through Multidistrict Litigation
If you have a mass tort case that could be transferred to an MDL, a mass torts attorney can help. They can walk you through the steps to ensure you don’t miss out on recovering the compensation you deserve. Get in touch with a mass tort lawyer today in our network by filling out the contact form or calling 1.844.44TORTS (1.844.448.6787). The law firm can review your case for free, answer your questions, and provide an explanation of what your legal options are.