Multi-District Litigation Cases vs. Class-Action Cases
- A class-action case involves a single lawsuit filed by a large group of people who have suffered similar harm by the same defendant (or defendants). The individuals within the class consolidate their claims into the one legal action. Class action cases may be brought before the federal court if the particular claim deals with federal law. To file a class action case, you must file with several stated plaintiffs on behalf of a proposed class. This proposed class is required to be made up of individuals or businesses that have sustained a common injury.
- Multi-district litigation (MDL) may involve multiple lawsuits filed by different parties. The different legal actions are consolidated for pre-trial proceeding convenience, including discovery, and may be sent back to the courts where they came from for the trial.
In recent years, the medical/pharmaceutical injury attorneys have become increasingly involved in multi-district litigation cases, including serving on the plaintiffs' steering committees that make important decisions regarding the strategy and direction of the litigation. Multi-district litigation is meant to speed the process of cases that may be complex. These types of litigation usually involve product liability suits where a large number of people experienced similar negative side effects after using a particular pharmaceutical or medical device.
Multi-district litigation, in contrast to class-action litigation, allows for each client's individual needs to be addressed while still enjoying many of the benefits that have traditionally been associated with class-action cases, such as the pooling of resources that may be needed to take on large, powerful corporations with virtually unlimited resources of their own.