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Class Action vs. Multidistrict Litigation

If you have a complaint against a drug manufacturer you are most likely not alone. Instead, there are likely dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people who have the same or similar complaint, and, in order to facilitate the trying of these cases, all or many of the people who have these complaints may be compiled into a smaller number of legal proceedings. This can be done either by declaring a class action or consolidating cases into a multidistrict litigation. Although not mutually exclusive, these two types of litigation have very different characteristics.

The lawyers at Schlichter, Bogard & Denton are very experienced in drug litigation and have handled both class action lawsuits and multidistrict litigations. If you have a complaint against a drug manufacturer and desire the help of an experienced drug lawyer, please call or email us today for a free initial consultation.

What Is a Class Action?

class action is a lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of people, such as a lawsuit filed on behalf of everyone who purchased a particular drug and suffered some form of injury, known as the plaintiffs. The purpose of a class action is to allow many people with few resources to combat the drug manufacturing corporation, which has significant resources and could easily overwhelm each of the plaintiffs. Typically initiated by one or a few of the people, the lawsuit is expanded to include everyone who belongs to the class. The court handling the action would try to inform everyone who belongs to the class, giving them the option of opting out and seeking independent action or opting in and accepting whatever shares of the settlement or verdict may be passed to them.

What Is a Multidistrict Litigation?

Multidistrict litigation is a federal court procedure used to consolidate all pending litigation on an essentially or largely identical issue under a single federal judge for pretrial proceedings. Multidistrict litigation is done when cases in multiple federal court districts depend on common questions of fact. These individual drug litigation cases can be brought by individual plaintiffs or be class actions. Thus, a multidistrict litigation may be composed of multiple individual lawsuits, multiple class actions, or a mixture of individual lawsuits and class actions.

Important Distinctions between Class Action and Multidistrict Litigation

Once a class action is declared, all the people who have claims and are considered a part of the class are given a brief time to either opt in or opt out. All those who have not opted out remain part of the class, and the class action proceeds as a single trial through hearings and to a verdict if necessary. In contrast, multidistrict litigation is only for pretrial proceedings, so that all parties whose cases hinge on similar questions of fact can streamline the discoveries, disclosures, and depositions necessary to establish the facts. In theory, once the pretrial proceedings are finished, the individual cases are then remanded (sent back) to their original federal court districts. This means that even after consolidation into a multidistrict litigation, the individual cases may have very different outcomes in trial. In practice, though, much multidistrict litigation leads to settlements during the pretrial proceedings.

If you have been hurt by a defective drug anywhere in the United States, the drug litigation attorneys at Schlichter, Bogard & Denton can help you get legal remedy for your injury.  Please call or email us today for a free initial consultation.

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