MDL - Multidistrict Litigation
What is an MDL?
Most people, when they hear the term “MDL” have no idea what that means. The initials “MDL” stand for “multidistrict litigation.” However, just hearing that probably did not clarify what an MDL is, how it works, or if you have one that should be reviewed by an attorney. MDLs can be compared to a class action lawsuit. However, unlike a class action lawsuit, each MDL remains its own separate case and not one lawsuit lumped together involving a large group of people. The issue that is presented in an MDL is the same for each person.
For example, a recent MDL suit that is currently being seen in advertisements across the nation involves Xarelto. In this case, many users of Xarelto are suing the maker of the drug for negative side effects as a result of taking the medication. Each individual who is suing has their own separate case, but it is being overseen as part of a large group of cases.
MDL cases all have a common thread involving one or two common issues present in every case, but they are being filed all over the country. In order to streamline the cases and avoid having to do the same discovery and work in all the separate cases, the MDLs are handled this way to save in the cost and time to handle each case individually. The cases are filed in federal court and all the discovery matters and pretrial issues prior to trial are all handled through one assigned court system. If the case does go to trial, it then is returned to the Florida court (or wherever it was originally filed) to be tried locally.
Who Decides if a Case is an MDL?
The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) is constructed of a panel of seven district or circuit judges who are chosen by the Chief Justice. The job of the panel is to determine if a certain type of case should be deemed appropriate as an MDL. For example, if it is determined a certain drug caused brain damage and many people are beginning to sue for this damage from taking the drug, the JPML may determine it is an appropriate MDL case. Once the JPML decides the case is an MDL case, then an MDL judge is appointed and that judge oversees all discovery, pretrial motions and settlement conferences. Additionally, that judge sets criteria to determine if any cases that have been filed should be dismissed.
What Types of Cases are Generally Considered for MDLs?
The central concern in deciding whether a case will be an MDL is looking to general common questions present in all the cases. Therefore, these are some areas where an MDL may be likely:
- Airplane crashes where many people are killed or injured
- Pharmaceutical cases (i.e. Xarelto, Vioxx, Seroquel)
- Medical Device cases (i.e. hip replacement, breast implants, vaginal mesh)
- Asbestos claims
- Product liability claims. (i.e. Johnson & Johnson talcum powder)
What Should I Do if I Think I Have a Claim?
If you think you may have been subject to injury or lost a loved one due to using a product that may be subject to an MDL, contact the law firm of Jennifer L. Hamey, PA to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION with a knowledgeable attorney who can gather more information and assist in determining if you have a claim.