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Home ► Blog ► An Informal Guide: What is a Multidistrict Litigation?
A multidistrict litigation, commonly referred to as MDL, is a special federal legal procedure designed to speed the process of handling complex litigations by consolidating cases and addressing all pretrial procedures in one court.
What does that mean?
When a large number of people who have all been affected by the same thing file individual lawsuits, the federal court system allows for consolidation of these cases into an MDL to make them easier to manage. The original lawsuits do not have to be in the same state. MDLs take cases from multiple federal districts (each state has at least one district) and puts them into one district court. This single district court then addresses all the discovery and pretrial procedures that apply to every case – cutting the costs and amount of resources needed, and keeping court rulings consistent with similar cases.
Why not handle each case separately?
MDLs save everyone involved both time and money. MDLs were created to make the court more efficient. By consolidating cases into one district court to address discovery and pretrial procedures, time and money are saved. Rather than have multiple judges address the same issues, one judge handles all of the issues for all of the cases. Rather than having many plaintiffs paying the legal costs of discovery and pretrial proceedings across multiple districts, these activities occur once, in a single district court.
What is Discovery?
Discovery is a pre-trial process in which each party can obtain evidence from the other party. This can happen through various means, including deposition of witnesses, review of documents, written exchanges of questions and answers, etc.
What types of lawsuits can be consolidated into a Multidistrict Litigation?
Any group of non-criminal cases that share at least one similar question of fact can be eligible for multidistrict litigation. MDLs can consolidate either individual cases or class action lawsuits, or both.
Common types of MDL cases include:
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