Legal disputes can be complex, so you must understand the differences between types of litigation. Multidistrict litigation (MDL) is a type of litigation that involves numerous individual lawsuits, often spanning the country and involving a large number of attorneys.
With MDL lawsuits making up about 15% of all civil cases in the US, it’s important to know the ins and outs of this type of litigation to be prepared for any legal challenges. Let’s delve into the world of multidistrict litigation and explain everything you need to know.
Understanding Multidistrict Litigation and Its Purpose
As the number of civil cases surged in the US federal courts during the 1960s, MDL was created to address the backlog and ease the congestion in the judicial system. MDL is a legal process that accelerates the pre-trial process by eliminating the need for duplicate witness depositions and requests for discovery, which speeds up the case-building process.
MDL is most commonly used in cases where a large number of people are victims of a medical device or a new drug, making it difficult to prove their case in court. However, if scientific evidence presents a clear and severe side effect with a specific drug or an unusually large number of people report the same problem, the FDA may issue a warning notice. If enough people suffer related injuries and file lawsuits in federal courts, the lawyers may request that they be consolidated into an MDL.
The JPML is responsible for deciding whether to open a new MDL. The legal process involves forming steering committees, bellwether trials, court orders, and other judicial proceedings, which can lead to litigation settlements. Understanding this process is crucial to be well-equipped to handle potential litigation cases and secure the best possible outcome.
Common Multidistrict Litigation Cases
Different types of legal disputes may result in MDL proceedings, primarily if they involve multiple plaintiffs or defendants. Here are some common examples of cases that may lead to MDL proceedings:
- Discrimination in employment practices
- Malpractices in the workplace
- Disasters involving airlines or cruise ships
- Cases of product liability
- Civil lawsuits involving securities fraud
- Disputes over patents and intellectual property
In situations where numerous plaintiffs come forward with similar complaints, consolidating the cases into an MDL proceeding can help speed up the legal process and avoid redundancy. This can save the plaintiffs’ time and money and provide consistency in legal rulings. In many instances, MDL cases can result in litigation settlements, which offer a resolution for all parties involved.
What To Expect in MDL Settlements
When it comes to litigation settlements in MDL cases, there are several things to expect:
- Complex Settlements: Settlements related to medical devices and drugs can be highly complex. Attorneys from both sides will need to work together to create a plaintiff fact sheet containing detailed information about all complainants and their injuries.
- Evidence Required: Plaintiffs will need to provide evidence that they used the product in question and suffered injuries as a result. This could include hospital records, medical bills, pharmacy receipts, and emergency or discharge records. They may also need to provide proof of inability to work and wage loss.
- Settlement Fund: In most MDL cases, the defendant agrees to establish a settlement fund to compensate plaintiffs who agree to the settlement terms. This pool of money may be a fixed amount. However, before anyone is paid, the defendant typically requires that 95% or more of the complainants agree to the terms.
- Plaintiff Agreement: Plaintiffs who accept the settlement terms must sign an agreement that releases the defendant from further liability related to the specific injury or injuries.
- Court Approval: The settlement agreement must be approved by the court, which will review the terms and ensure they are fair to all parties involved.
- Timeframe: Settlements can take a significant amount of time to finalize. It could take several years from the time the first lawsuits are filed until the settlement is reached.
Ensure Fair Compensation for Civil Cases
In the past, only 11.5% of federal civil cases were brought to court for trial, but today, that number has decreased significantly to just 1%. This means that many more cases are being resolved outside the courtroom, with expert assistance and guidance for victims seeking a fair settlement. With the help of legal professionals and court officials like Judge Jose Lineras, the process of pursuing compensation for civil cases has become more efficient.