What is Multidistrict Litigation?
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.
So, How Does Multidistrict Litigation Pertain to Me?
When a large number of people who have all been affected by the same thing file individual lawsuits, the federal court system allows for the 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, and one judge, then address 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, plaintiffs and defense alike, both time and money. MDLs were created to make the court more efficient because one of the common issues with the legal industry is how long the process can take. By consolidating cases into one district court to address discovery and pretrial procedures, time and money are saved through efficient case management. 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 a deposition of witnesses, a 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 involving one or more common questions 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:
- Dangerous pharmaceutical drugs;
- Dangerous medical devices;
- Mass accidents such as airplane crashes or chemical spills;
- Product liability claims;
- Employment practices;
- Intellectual property infringement; and
- Securities fraud.
How Do I Know if my Case will be Consolidated into an MDL?
The decision is not up to either party involved. In fact, the decision to establish an MDL is determined by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). The panel is comprised of seven federal district court judges appointed by the chief justice. The panel, created in 1968, was designed to relieve the mass amount of cases backlogged in the United States federal judicial court. 28 U.S.C. 1407 Once an MDL has been created, you as the plaintiff, have 20 days to decide if you would like to join. If not, a motion to transfer must be filed within those 20 days. Then, the MDL Panel must decide if they grant you permission to transfer your case. An MDL can be a confusing process which is why it is best to hire a personal injury lawyer to act on your behalf. Their knowledge and experience in the legal industry will be of the utmost importance when holding the responsible party accountable for your injuries and fighting to get you the compensation you deserve.
Learn More About the Lawsuit Process:
- Personal Injury Lawsuit
- Why Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
- Gathering Evidence
- Assessing Damages
- What are Compensatory Damages and Punitive Damages?
- Receiving Compensation
- General Liability Guide
- Premises Liability Guide
- What is a Bellwether Trial?
- Statute of Limitations Guide
- What are the Steps in a Civil Lawsuit?