What is Multidistrict Litigation? - Hensley Legal Group, PC

What Is Multidistrict Litigation?


Multidistrict litigation (MDL) is the act of transferring similar pending civil cases in different districts to a judge in a set district. This allows for consolidation and efficiency in reaching a settlement and promoting justice.

Example of Multidistrict Litigation

An example where multidistrict litigation may work are product-related injury claims, such as when a medical device causes injury to multiple parties who later all file separate lawsuits against the manufacturer of the product. Let’s say pharmaceuticals have resulted in numerous injuries to consumers, such as unintended severe side effects.

Imagine if 120 lawsuits were filed as a result of a prescription medication that was tainted. If a witness in the case, such as a researcher from the pharmaceutical company, was deposed, the deposition may have to take place for 120 different cases. With multidistrict litigation, that witness would only need to be deposed one time.

Whatever the circumstance, if a party causes widespread harm, there is less chance of duplicating efforts to resolve the matter and a greater chance of consistent rulings by consolidating the lawsuits to a single district. It might also reduce the likelihood of appeals, further saving judicial resources.

How Does Multidistrict Litigation Work?

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation picks out cases that might be consolidated, thus saving judicial resources by placing the case in the hands of one district court rather than several different courts.

The district court then oversees pretrial procedures like motions as well as the discovery process. Some of the cases might be dismissed, others will be allowed to continue. These cases will be sent back to the court where they were originally filed.

The United States District Court of Indiana handles multidistrict litigation in the state. It starts with a transfer order, which summarizes the districts in which claimants have filed their separate claims, the reason for transferring these cases to the single district, and any other relevant information.

An example of a case sent to the Indiana’s district court is one involving Biomet Inc.’s hip implant products. These were metal-on-metal devices used in patients requiring hip replacements. Several lawsuits were filed due to the hip implant system prematurely failing and injuries caused by buildup of metal in the patients’ surrounding tissue.

There were several similarities in the claims, all related to the performance, marketing, manufacturing and design of the product. The reason for transferring these cases was that access to witnesses and documents would be easier because of Biomet’s headquarters, located in Warsaw, Indiana. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation therefore found that this was a convenient location for the case.

Do I Need a Lawyer in Multidistrict Litigation?

Complicated cases such as these generally require help from legal counsel. An attorney can explain some of the pros and cons, along with providing information on a particular product that may be subject to multidistrict litigation.

Don’t delay in seeking legal advice if you or someone you love has suffered serious or fatal injuries. Hensley Legal Group helps victims of negligence or product liability in Indiana and nearby areas. Call us at (317) 472-3333 to set up a consultation with a lawyer.