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Mass Tort Cases versus Multidistrict Litigation

| Kay Van Wey
Mass Tort Cases versus Multidistrict Litigation

As an attorney, I have the privilege of talking with people all over the country who have been injured by a dangerous drug or unsafe medical device. Many of my clients in are initially confused about the legal process involved with these types of cases. One of the most common misconceptions I hear as a Dallas attorney is that dangerous drug and medical device cases are class actions. They are not.

Even though your case may be joined with many other people who have also been injured by a particular drug or medical device, your individual situation will still be considered.

In class action cases, everyone is treated the same, no matter the degree or severity of their harm. But in mass tort cases, everyone may be treated as an individual, so that the severity of your injuries and damages may be taken into account.

What is an MDL?

Several different types of lawsuits can be filed against pharmaceutical or medical device companies as a result of injuries caused by defective drugs or medical devices.

Defective drug and medical device cases involve complex proceedings in both local and federal jurisdictions. In federal jurisdictions, civil cases involving multiple injured victims may be consolidated under the system of Multidistrict Litigation, referred to as MDL.

MDL cases occur when civil litigation involving common issues of fact, such as injuries caused by a defective drug or medical device, are pending in several jurisdictions.

Instead of lawsuits being filed in several federal courts across the country, they are handled by one court, with one judge appointed to preside over the legal proceedings.

In mass tort cases, you are treated as an individual so that the severity of your injuries and damages may be taken into account.

The MDL procedure was designed to streamline the legal process for simplicity of handling complex legal issues. Cases involving one or more common questions of fact may be consolidated into an MDL by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation for case management and discovery.

After pretrial proceedings and discovery are complete, cases may be returned to the original court for trial. Sometimes, these cases are settled during the pretrial and discovery process.

In other instances, certain cases may be selected as “bellweather trials,” meaning that a small fraction of the overall cases that are on file will be tried to a jury. Bellweather trials help both sides further analyze

the strengths and weaknesses of the cases and often help the parties to reach a global settlement of all pending cases.

Class Action Lawsuits

Class action lawsuits are different from MDL cases. In class action lawsuits, a large group of injured victims brings a lawsuit collectively against a single entity.

Class action lawsuits are not always beneficial to individual victims, as all victims are treated exactly the same, no matter the degree or severity of their individual injury. Class action lawsuits can take several years from filing to resolution and may limit the amount of financial compensation available to individual victims.

Large class action lawsuits brought in federal jurisdictions may also be consolidated for pre-trial discovery purposes under the MDL system.

Mass Tort Cases

Mass tort cases are not class action cases. In mass tort cases, the facts and circumstances of each person’s individual case are taken into account and the extent of each person’s injury or harm are considered.

As a personal injury attorney, I have spent my legal career (over 25 years) advocating for the rights of consumers and obtaining financial retribution for those who have been injured by corporations who put profits ahead of consumer safety.

Defective Drugs & Defective Medical Devices

If you have been injured by a defective drug or medical device, you are entitled to know your legal rights. We may be able to help you bring a claim against the manufacturer of the product that injured you. Call Van Wey, Metzler & Williams, PLLC at (214) 329-1350 or (800) 489-5082 today to have your questions answered.

Our experienced attorneys will explain the process of your potential lawsuit from the initial filing until conclusion.

By: Kay Van Wey | January 19, 2016

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