When a lawsuit involves multiple parties, it can be filed as a class action or a mass tort. A class action has one plaintiff who represents the entire group and everyone in the group obtains the same financial (or other) recovery. A mass tort, on the other hand, is a consolidation of individually filed cases into one court in order to make the litigation process more efficient. Although the plaintiffs in a mass tort are part of a group, each person’s case is still handled individually and each person’s recovery can be different based on the facts of their case.
In 1968, Congress created the multidistrict litigation or MDL system in order to coordinate federal complex litigation filed in multiple districts. The goals are efficiency and economy; by consolidating discovery and pretrial proceedings, the parties (and court system) should save money and time.
Mass Torts: The Process
A mass tort involves a wrongful act that hurts many people. Those people individually file lawsuits, which the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ultimately consolidates into one court for handling in what is called an MDL. The panel is appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and consists of seven members. If the panel determines that a group of federal civil cases from around the country should be centralized into one case, it transfers the cases from the courts where they were first filed to a single federal district court. Cases that are filed after the formation of the MDL can also be transferred later on.
MDLs are good for plaintiffs because all of the attorneys involved can pool their collective knowledge and experience, not to mention financial resources, in order to advocate more effectively for their clients. MDLs are good for defendants too because it is generally cheaper for a corporation to litigate all of its claims arising out of the same scenario in one forum instead of in unlimited forums across the country.
Mass tort plaintiffs typically live in geographically diverse locations. MDLs have been formed to handle multi-party litigation involving airplane crashes, securities fraud, and products liability, among other claims. Some of the more recent mass tort litigation our lawyers have been involved with includes:
Houston, Texas Mass Tort Lawyers
Our firm has an established reputation for successfully handling claims involving multiple plaintiffs against large, powerful corporate defendants in Houston, across Texas, and throughout the country. We help victims who have suffered injury as the result of dangerous drugs, harmful agricultural products, defective medical devices, and other problematic consumer products. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, we work with clients across the country to help them fight for justice and the financial compensation they deserve, so contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced mass tort lawyer.