Multidistrict litigation cases are designed to make it easier for victims of negligence to receive justice. Learn more at the Guardian Legal Network.
What is Multidistrict Litigation?
Most people don’t enter into the world of the legal system willingly for a variety of reasons. Chief among them being the complicated nature of it. When someone is wronged by the negligence of a person or organization, the injured individual can feel overwhelmed and frustrated by the legal process. Especially when complicated legal terms are thrown around. Depending on the type of injury, one of those legal terms an injured party may hear is “multidistrict litigation.” But what is multidistrict litigation, and what is a person supposed to do with it?
What is Multidistrict Litigation?
Multidistrict litigation is a special type of legal proceeding in federal civil lawsuits. It promotes efficiencies in the courts by allowing for civil actions to be held in any district so that lawyers and victims can more easily participate in pretrial work. Per Justia, to be eligible for multidistrict litigation, the civil actions must involve “one or more common questions of fact” and be “pending in different districts.”
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation manages multidistrict litigation and plays an important role in the process. The job of the Panel is to “(1) determine whether civil actions pending in different federal districts involve one or more common questions of fact such that the actions should be transferred to one federal district for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings; and (2) select the judge or judges and court assigned to conduct such proceedings.”
By transferring similar cases to the same district, multidistrict litigation helps to:
- Minimize duplication
- Ensure consistent rulings
- Make better use of court and party resources
Multidistrict litigation cases involve a multitude of litigation categories, including airplane crashes, hotel fires, mass torts involving asbestos or drugs, intellectual property issues, and more. Reviewing the list of pending actions reveals countless cases against large corporations.
What is 28 U.S.C § 1407?
Congress codified multidistrict litigation in 28 U.S.C § 1407. The statute is the governing statute for multidistrict litigation. It empowers the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to transfer civil actions. The statute identifies who may initiate the proceedings for transfer. It also provides the grounds for when an action may be transferred.
How a Multidistrict Litigation Case Works
The first step of a multidistrict litigation case is the filing of lawsuits by multiple parties in multiple districts. Multidistrict litigation is only available for civil actions, not criminal matters. Once the lawsuits are filed, proceedings for the transfer of the cases may be initiated by either of the following:
- The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation or
- A “motion filed with the panel by a party in any action in which transfer for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings” may be appropriate.
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decides whether or not the cases should be transferred to one federal district court for pretrial proceedings. If the Panel decides that the cases should be transferred, the cases are temporarily consolidated for the pretrial proceedings. After the pretrial proceedings, any remaining cases are transferred back to their original districts for trial.
Not all cases go to trial. Some are resolved via settlement, while others are dismissed or end via summary judgment.
Multidistrict Litigation vs. Mass Torts
When discussing multidistrict litigation, another term that you may hear is mass torts. Tort law is a type of law focused on helping people seek justice when they have been injured or harmed due to the actions—or the inaction—of others. There are many different types of torts.
Multidistrict Litigation vs. Class Action
Even if you haven’t heard of multidistrict litigation, you have most likely heard of class action lawsuits. So, multidistrict litigation vs. class action, is there a difference? Yes, there is a difference between multidistrict litigation vs. class action. There are several differences in fact, not all of which are discussed here.
Generally, while multidistrict litigation and class action lawsuits may involve similar claims, a class action lawsuit is a single lawsuit filed by multiple victims. If the victims are successful in a class action, they are often only entitled to an identical share of any compensation awarded. Conversely, in multidistrict litigation, parties may receive a portion of any settlement based on their individual claims or injuries.
What is the Benefit of Multidistrict Litigation?
Multidistrict litigation can provide a number of benefits for all parties involved and even the courts. Notably, multidistrict litigation can ease the burden on the courts by consolidating many cases into one. This can also expedite the judicial process for the parties involved.
Multidistrict litigation can also benefit the victims seeking justice. It allows multiple victims to pool their legal resources and coordinate their legal efforts when pursuing justice in a case. More resources give the victims the best chance of getting the justice that they deserve.
Well-Known Multidistrict Litigation Cases
While you may not have heard the term multidistrict litigation before this article, you may be surprised to learn that you have heard of many of the well-known multidistrict litigation cases. Some of those cases are discussed below.
3M Earplugs Lawsuit
3M has been accused of selling earplugs to the U.S. military that were defective. This ongoing matter has grown to become one of the largest multidistrict litigation actions in U.S. history. Victims who have suffered hearing loss or other injuries due to the defective earplugs may be entitled to compensation.
The Asbestos lawsuit is probably the most well-known multidistrict litigation case. It is also the longest-lasting and one of the largest. Asbestos companies were aware that asbestos exposure put people at risk for developing a wide range of illnesses, but concealed the dangers at the expense of the health and lives of the public. Victims of asbestos exposure may be able to recover damages for the harm they have suffered.
Hernia Mesh Lawsuit
You may have also heard of the hernia mesh litigation. This ongoing litigation actually involves a number of multidistrict litigation proceedings. It is notable for the many companies that are being sued related to defective hernia mesh implants including the following:
- C.R. Bard
- Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson
- Atrium Medical Corp
- Covidien, a subsidiary of Medtronic
Contact the Guardian Legal Network Today
At Guardian Legal Network, we want to help individuals hold corporations accountable for their actions. The Guardian Legal Network process ensures that injured individuals are connected with the legal help they need. The intake process is simple and our team responds promptly to all inquiries. If you think you are in a situation that may qualify as multidistrict litigation, then it is time to contact Guardian Legal Network.
- “Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.” United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, https://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/. Accessed December 1, 2022.
- “Statistical Analysis of Multidistrict Litigation Under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 Fiscal Year 2021.” United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, https://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/sites/jpml/files/JPML%20FY%202021%20Report.pdf. Accessed December 1, 2022.
- “28 U.S.C. § 1407 (2020).” Law Justia, https://law.justia.com/codes/us/2020/title-28/part-iv/chapter-87/sec-1407/. Accessed December 1, 2022.
- “About the Panel.” United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, https://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/about-panel. Accessed December 1, 2022.
- “28 U.S.C. § 1407.” United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, https://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/sites/jpml/files/28_usc_1407.pdf. Accessed December 1, 2022.
- “United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation Calendar Year Statistics.” United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, https://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/sites/jpml/files/JPML_Calendar_Year_Statistics-2021.pdf. Accessed December 1, 2022.