Multi-District Litigation Faq
What is Multi-District Litigation?
Many of the cases that TheLawFirm.com handles are Multi-District Litigation cases, usually known as MDLs.
MDLs are a very particular, interesting, and important type of lawsuit, but they’re not very well-known – except to lawyers like us!
You have the right to know as much as possible about the lawsuit that you choose to file with TheLawFirm.com. If, after reading our guide below, you still have questions about anything at all pertaining to Multi-District Litigation, give us a call. The consultation is always free.
What is a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) case?
MDLs are essentially “batches” of related lawsuits, collected under a single legal entity to allow for better management of all cases.
When a large number of civil cases (that is, cases in which no criminal charges have been filed) share a common issue, they may be consolidated and transferred to a single district court, which will handle all of the pretrial proceedings for the lawsuits.
What is the purpose of MDL?
MDL legislation was enacted into federal law in 1968 for the purpose of consolidating and streamlining large civil cases. MDL is designed to make the trial system more efficient and economical.
As we often hear, the American legal system is “backed up.” MDLs help clear up some of that backlog. In an MDL case, a single judge will preside over all pretrial proceedings, rather than having dozens or even hundreds of individual judges preside over dozens or hundreds of cases.
MDLs promote legal consistency, as well. Were 200 judges to rule on 200 different cases, their legal opinions would surely differ in many ways. In MDL cases, a single judge immerses him- or herself into the case – thereby becoming an expert – then issues a single decision that applies to all of the constituent lawsuits.
What kinds of cases are heard in MDL?
Usually, MDL cases are large, complex, multistate civil cases that share one or more common issues of fact. Many MDL cases involve:
• dangerous drugs
• malfunctioning or defective medical devices
• airplane crashes
• securities fraud
• employment practices
• intellectual property infringement
MDLs are not used to address criminal cases.
MDLs can consolidate a number of kinds of cases, including individual cases (lawsuits filed by one person or a small number of people) and class action cases (lawsuits filed on behalf of a large number of people).
If my case is being consolidated into a larger case, how will my case get the specific attention that it deserves? If I win, will I simply get a tiny slice of a large pie?
MDLs are used to determine which of many cases may proceed to trial. In an MDL’s pretrial proceedings, the judge will determine which cases are eligible for trial.
One of several things can happen to your case when it is made part of an MDL.
• Your case may be dismissed. Some cases do not meet the standards set by each MDL judge, and are dismissed.
• Your case may be settled. Most MDL cases end without a finding of who was right and who was wrong. Many of them end in settlements. In a settlement, the defendant admits to no wrongdoing but agrees to pay a sum of money – usually, a fairly large sum – to avoid the cost of further litigation. If your case is settled, your attorney will work hard to ensure that you receive fair and just compensation. Your case is always your case and can only be settled with your express consent and agreement.
• Your case may be deemed worthy of a further trial. If your case is neither dismissed nor settled, it will be sent to court in the state in which it was originally filed, and that court will try your case individually. This is very rare and unlikely.
What is an example of a MDL case?
Here’s a hypothetical example:
Three hundred people have filed complaints about an allegedly dangerously defective hip replacement device. The “question of fact” at the heart of the case is whether the device’s manufacturer knew about the defect before allowing the device to reach the marketplace.
In this case, every one of the three hundred plaintiffs will want their attorneys to interview (depose) certain executives who work at the company that made the device. Maintaining these cases as 300 individual cases in Courts all over the country means deposing those executives 300 times. If the cases are consolidated into an MDL, the executives will be deposed once.
Who determines which cases are made into MDL cases?
The governing body for MDLs is the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation JPMDL). The seven members of this panel are appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
If the JPMDL determines that a group of federal civil cases should be consolidated into a single case, it will transfer those cases from their various courts into a single federal district court. Other cases may join the MDL later, too – these are called “tag-along cases.”
What are the advantages of MDLs?
Attorneys who represent the plaintiffs (the people who file the lawsuits) in an MDL case can and usually do pool their resources and share information and strategies. This means more brainpower and financial resources are made available for trying the plaintiffs’ cases.
What are the disadvantages of MDLs?
For plaintiffs, MDLs hold few, if any, disadvantages. The MDL judge considers every case individually, so each case is still considered individual but simply managed as a group. The biggest disadvantage is that because there can be hundreds or even thousands of these cases, it can take several years to resolve the cases as a whole. The advantages though strongly outweigh the disadvantages.
Defendants – the entities being sued – like MDLs because they save time and money; since defendants are deposed only once (instead of multiple times), defendants also like MDLs because they limit inconsistency in depositions.
However, since MDLs are usually large cases involving a prominent company being sued by large number of people, they tend to attract media attention. That additional attention, in turn, can attract more plaintiffs to file similar cases under the terms of the MDL.
The attorneys at TheLawFirm.com are all-around experts in Multi-District Litigation cases. Most of the cases we handle are MDLs – and we’re very good at handling MDLs.
If, after reading this guide, you feel that you are entitled to be part of a new or existing MDL case, contact TheLawFirm.com right away. You may have a case.
The consultation is free, and we’re here for you 24/7.
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