What is MDL?

MDL Definition

An MDL stands for multidistrict litigation and is a special legal procedure conducted in federal court that is designed to quickly conduct the handling of complex cases, which can include dangerous drug and medical device lawsuits. The legal definition of an MDL is “a procedure provided by federal statute (28 U.S.C.A. § 1407) that permits civil lawsuits with a minimum of one common Question of Fact that may be pending in different federal district courts which may be consolidated and transferred for pretrial before a single judge.”

When Does an MDL Happen?

An MDL case can occur when there is a civil lawsuit or action involving one or more common issues pending in different districts and even different states. These cases may involve hundreds or even thousands of plaintiffs in dozens of different courts that all share an injury as the result of a common defective product, such as a defective drug or medical device.

How Does an MDL Work?

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is the authority who decides whether or not cases should be consolidated under an MDL and to which district the cases should be transferred. The cases that are subject to an MDL are sent from one court that is known as the transferor, to another court known as the transferee. All pretrial proceedings and discovery can be conducted here, and if the case is not settled or dismissed within this court, it is sent back to the transferor court for trial.

MDL and Product Liability

Under product liability law, manufacturers, marketers, and the sellers of defective or dangerous products may be held liable for any injury caused by the product, which includes medical devices and prescription drugs. In many cases, the same defective product can cause injuries to many different people, especially if it is offered or sold across the nation. Once a product has been found or suspected to be defective, it makes sense for both the plaintiffs and defendants to consolidate all the cases into multidistrict litigation.

MDL Lawsuits

When plaintiffs join an MDL lawsuit, they will invariably join a group of other plaintiffs who have suffered similar injuries due to the defective product. They may all testify at a trial, and they all share in any settlement that is awarded or agreed upon before trial. However, proceedings from the settlement may not be divided equally and instead be divided by severity of injury.