Drug Lawsuit Process
A drug lawsuit holds negligent manufacturers responsible for their dangerous drugs or devices. Once a case is resolved, any settlement funds received are often used to cover medical bills and lost wages.
The Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Process
Due to the large volume of cases brought against drug manufacturers every day, pharmaceutical lawsuits normally fall under multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDL takes a group of independent drug lawsuits against a manufacturer and transfers them to a single court. Bringing hundreds – or potentially thousands – of cases under one district helps coordinate information, lowers overall costs and expedites the legal process.
Additional benefits of an MDL include:
- Accelerating the pace of the process and reducing the chance of a delay
- Making litigation more affordable with less attorney hours
- Gaining media attention and pressuring the manufacturer to settle
- Pulling additional resources and factual evidence from other cases
- Addressing all individuals’ common interests
It’s important for manufacturers to be held accountable for the dangerous drugs or products that have caused harm to many people throughout the country. A trusted attorney with experience in drug lawsuit cases can guide clients through the entire process and help ensure a good outcome.
Initial Legal Consultation
After finding a legal expert, individuals will set up an initial consultation to discuss their specific case. Upon meeting with the client, the attorney reviews information provided and makes note of the harmful side effects related to the defective drug or product. The attorney then presents a plan with viable options and possible solutions.When drugs and medical device manufacturers neglect to list all potential side effects, they can put patients’ safety at risk. This may lead to lasting side effects that impact the person’s quality of life.
Free legal consultations are available. Click here to begin your free legal consultation today. There is often only a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit, so it’s important to move quickly if you think you have a case.
Judicial Panel Consolidates Cases
Before cases against a manufacturer can be consolidated, each attorney must petition the judicial panel. When petitions have been received, the panel evaluates the independent cases to determine if they correspond with the requirements for MDL. From there, it’s decided where to transfer the cases — this is called the transferee court. Any civil actions that were originally filed are transferred to the selected court before pretrial proceedings.Throughout this time, the individual’s attorney will handle all necessary matters and keep their client updated on the timeline and key happenings.
Following the appointment of a presiding judge, the lead counsel – responsible for all aspects of the case on both sides – will be determined. When the transfer is complete, a Plaintiff Steering Committee is formed to confirm all parties involved are represented in a well-defined manner.
Legal Counsel Gathers Evidence
Once an MDL has been established, the discovery phase pulls together resources, information and research. Typically, this phase is the most complex for attorneys since it involves all the information to ultimately be used if the case goes to trial. Still, the ability to combine all the evidence from a large number of cases – similar to a class action lawsuit – enhances the group’s common goal and benefit. Receiving access to all documentation simplifies the process and makes sure common cases have uniform outcomes.During the discovery phase, it’s essential for individuals to keep an open line of communication with their attorney in case they need to provide any further information.
On the manufacturer’s side, documentation relevant to the claims made against them must be submitted. Any witnesses may also be deposed for testimony to be used if the case goes to trial. For cases that are not dismissed or go to trial, proceedings will take place where they were originally filed – known as the transferor court. Many MDL cases often end up settling before going to trial.
Drug Lawsuit Resolution
After the discovery phase is complete, a sample from the individual lawsuits may be selected for a ‘bellwether trial.’ These cases are representative of the facts and issues that would normally arise in many of the other lawsuits. ‘Bellwether cases’ provide a few jury verdicts to give an idea of how further cases may proceed.
Oftentimes, attorneys on both sides of an MDL will attempt to negotiate a settlement for all of the cases. Individuals involved should look to their legal team to determine if the proposed settlement is fair. During this time, the benefits and risks associated with going to trial should also be weighed. If a settlement is not reached by the end of the ‘bellwether trial,’ the case will be sent back to the transferor court to go to trial in order to reach a resolution.
Free Legal Consultation
Have you experienced harmful side effects from a drug or defective medical device? If so, complete a form today to get in touch with an experienced attorney. A consultation is an opportunity for you to learn more about the options available. Time is limited on making claims for dangerous drugs and products, so act quickly.
Last Edited: August 5, 2016
- Federal Judicial Center. (2013). Coordinating Multijurisdiction Litigation: A Pocket Guide for Judges. July 2016. http://ncsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/civil/id/116
- Classaction.org. (2016). What is an MDL? July 2016. http://www.classaction.org/learn/what-is-an-mdl
- Fallon, Grabill, Pitard Wynne. (2008). Bellwether Trials in Multidistrict Litigation . July 2016. http://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/sites/jpml/files/Bellwether%20Trials%20in%20Multidistrict%20Litigation-Fallon_Grabill_Wynne-2008.pdf
- Classaction.org. (2016). Drug and Medical Devices: Why They Are Rarely Class Actions. July 2016. http://www.classaction.org/learn/why-isnt-this-a-class-action
- Duke Law School Center for Judicial Studies. (2014). MDL STANDARDS AND BEST PRACTICES. July 2016. https://law.duke.edu/sites/default/files/centers/judicialstudies/MDL_Standards_and_Best_Practices_2014-REVISED.pdf
- Ruff, Gillingham. (2011). The Ins and Outs of Trying the Bellwether Case in Multidistrict Litigation. July 2016. http://www.thefederation.org/documents/V61N4_Ruff1.pdf