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Why Are Some Product Liability Cases Consolidated into Multidistrict Litigation?



Historically, many high-profile and large-stakes product liability cases have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation. The silicone breast implants, Dalkon Shield™ contraceptives, Norplant® contraceptives, pedicle-screw systems, and DPT (diptheria, pertussis, tetanus) vaccination cases were noteworthy product liability suits that evolved into large-scale consolidated cases across multiple jurisdictional districts. Why?

Why Does Multidistrict Litigation Occur?

Multidistrict litigation occurs in civil cases that cross multiple federal jurisdictions (federal judicial district courts) when those cases have at their core common legal issues. The decision to transfer cases to a single district court for a consolidated pretrial procedure can be made if certain criteria are met. Product liability litigation may be consolidated when a dangerous or defective product is utilized by a large number of consumers across the nation and the product causes great damage and harm. Consolidation is done so that the work to litigate and/or resolve the lawsuits is not replicated. Consolidation also ensures consistent results across multiple districts in cases involving the same product and similar, if not, identical injuries.

How Does Multidistrict Litigation Occur?

Admittedly, not all cases are suitable for multidistrict litigation consolidation. The decision is ultimately made by a judicial panel of seven federal court judges appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Chief Justice. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation convenes periodically to decide which product liability cases are appropriate for consolidation. It considers factors such as cost avoidance, duplication of effort in discovery, conflicting judicial rulings, and scheduling conflicts. When consolidation into multidistrict litigation is ordered, the resulting combined litigation conserves resources of the judiciary and the litigants.

What Should You Do if Your Product Injury Claim Is Similar to Other Claims?

If you are currently engaged in litigation over a product liability injury, or if you are a prospective client with a potential claim you believe to be similar to claims of other consumers, consider whether your claim or existing lawsuit may be eligible for consolidation into multidistrict litigation. A great starting place to get further information and to plan the next steps in your claim or case is with product liability, multidistrict litigation, or personal injury attorney. Counsel assist clients and prospective claimants with navigating the complexities of multidistrict litigation, especially in the challenging area of product liability law. Their goal is to provide clients with legal representation that is skillful, effective, and helpful throughout the litigation process so the client receives the maximum possible damages and/or recovery to which she may be entitled.