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Benefits of Multidistrict Litigations (MDLs) for Mass Tort Claims

The Use of Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)

By way of overview, multidistrict litigation (MDL) is a special federal procedure used to consolidate similar lawsuits that are pending in different courts across the country. MDLs are typically used in cases involving mass torts, where there are a large number of plaintiffs who have been injured by the same product or course of conduct.

MDLs are a useful tool for plaintiffs who have been injured by the same product or course of conduct. The consolidation of the cases allows for greater efficiency in discovery and other pretrial matters, as well as simplifies the trial process if the cases ultimately go to trial.

MDLs provide plaintiffs with a forum to have their claims heard by a judge and jury, but some plaintiffs may not want their case to be consolidated with others. Additionally, MDLs can be complex and time-consuming, which can delay resolution of the underlying claims. Some plaintiffs may also not receive as much individualized attention in an MDL as they would in a traditional lawsuit.

The process of multidistrict litigation (MDL) is used when there are a large number of lawsuits pending against one or more defendants that involve common factual issues. MDL consolidates the lawsuits into one court for pretrial proceedings, which can include discovery and motion practice. The cases are typically assigned to one judge, who oversees all aspects of the MDL.

If the parties cannot resolve the cases through pretrial proceedings, then the judge will select a group of “bellwether” cases to go to trial. The outcomes of the bellwether trials are used to gauge how similar cases are likely to fare if they go to trial. If the bellwether trials produce favorable results for the plaintiffs, this may encourage the defendants to settle the remaining cases.

How an MDL is Established

When an MDL is established, all of the pending lawsuits are transferred to one federal court, where they will be consolidated for pretrial proceedings. The consolidation of the cases allows for greater efficiency in discovery and other pretrial matters, as well as simplifies the trial process if the cases ultimately go to trial.

Recent Examples of Successful Multidistrict Litigations (MDLs) for Mass Tort Claims

Some Recent examples of successful MDLs for mass tort claims include:

– In re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2244): This MDL consolidated more than 7,000 lawsuits alleging that plaintiffs were injured by defective hip implants manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics. The cases were ultimately settled for a total of $2.5 billion.

– In re: Actos (Pioglitazone) Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2299): This MDL consolidated more than 5,000 lawsuits alleging that the diabetes drug Actos caused plaintiffs to develop bladder cancer. The cases were ultimately settled for a total of $9 billion.

– In re: National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation (MDL No. 2323): This MDL consolidated more than 5,000 lawsuits filed by former NFL players alleging that the league failed to protect them from concussions and other head injuries. The cases were settled for a total of $765 million.

Each of these MDLs were successful in consolidating a large number of cases and achieving settlements that were favorable for the plaintiffs. The process of multidistrict litigation allows for greater efficiency in discovery and other pretrial matters, as well as simplifies the trial process if the cases ultimately go to trial. Additionally, the MDL process provides plaintiffs with a forum to have their claims heard by a judge and jury. In each of these examples, the MDL resulted in a settlement that was favorable for the plaintiffs.

Benefits of MDLs

There are many benefits of MDL, including: the consolidation of similar cases allows for greater efficiency in discovery and other pretrial matters; the trial process is simplified because all of the cases are tried together in one court; and providing plaintiffs with a forum to have their claims heard by a judge and jury.

Drawbacks of MDLs

There are also some drawbacks to MDL, including: plaintiffs may not want their case to be consolidated with others because they prefer to have their day in court on their own; MDLs can be complex and time-consuming, which can delay resolution of the underlying claims; and some plaintiffs may not receive as much individualized attention in an MDL as they would in a traditional lawsuit.

How an MDL is Typically Structured

An MDL is typically structured as follows: (1) All of the cases are consolidated into one court. (2) A group of plaintiffs, known as the “bellwether” plaintiffs, are selected to have their cases tried first. (3) The outcomes of the bellwether trials are used to gauge how similar cases are likely to fare if they go to trial. (4) If the bellwether trials produce favorable results for the plaintiffs, this may encourage the defendants to settle the remaining cases. (5) Plaintiffs individually determine whether they will accept the settlement amount, and decide whether to take it or instead go to trial in their original courts.

The Difference Between an MDL and a Class Action Lawsuit

An MDL is different from a class action lawsuit in several ways. First, an MDL consolidates multiple lawsuits that have been filed in different courts, while a class action lawsuit consolidates multiple lawsuits that have been filed in the same court. Second, an MDL is typically used for mass tort claims, while a class action lawsuit can be used for any type of claim (including mass tort claims too). Finally, an MDL is typically overseen by one judge, while a class action lawsuit may be overseen by a number of judges, before whom plaintiffs known as the “class representatives” would appear.

Conclusion

Multidistrict litigation is a powerful tool that can be used to consolidate similar lawsuits and achieve favorable settlements for plaintiffs. While there are some drawbacks to the process, the benefits of MDL typically outweigh the negatives. If you have been injured by a defective product or harmful medical device, you may want to consider filing an MDL against the responsible party. Class action lawsuits are another option for consolidating multiple lawsuits, but they differ from MDLs in several key ways. You should speak with an experienced attorney to determine which type of lawsuit is right for you.