What is multidistrict litigation?
Multidistrict litigation (MDL) refers to a special federal legal procedure designed to speed the process of handling complex cases, such as product liability suits. MDL cases occur when civil actions involving common questions of fact are pending in different federal district courts. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decides whether to consolidate such cases for pre-trial proceedings, and if so, in which court to consolidate them. After a case has been consolidated by the JPML, all currently pending and future cases involving common questions of fact will be transferred to the consolidation court.
What is a mass tort?
A mass tort consists of a series of individual civil lawsuits with numerous plaintiffs against the same defendant or defendants involving the same product or defect. A lawsuit arises when a defendant causes multiple injuries through a similar act of harm. Mass tort actions are frequently consolidated in state court or by the JPML in federal court.
What is a class action?
A class action is a type of lawsuit where one of the parties is a group of people who are represented collectively by a member of that group. The court must certify the class before it can formally proceed as a class action. Class actions are useful in redressing damages or losses inflicted on a large number of people where the individual claims may be too small to make separate actions economically feasible. By collectively pursuing claims as part of a class, individuals can seek redress, and the defendants who harmed them can be brought to justice. Courts impose strict requirements for allowing cases to proceed as class actions, mainly, that there must be common issues in the case that outweigh individual issues class members may have.
What is the difference between a mass tort and a class action?
Claims for personal injuries generally involve individualized issues, even if the claims involve the same product or defect. For efficiency, personal injury cases may be consolidated as a mass tort for pre-trial proceedings, but if the cases are not settled, they will be transferred back to the original court to be tried. By contrast, in a certified class action, all individual class claims are tried in a single trial and other class members' claims stand or fall based on the outcome of that one trial. Personal injury actions are rarely certified as class actions.
What does it cost to participate in a lawsuit?
Your case evaluation is always absolutely free. Additionally, we only get an attorney fee if you obtain a recovery, in which case our fee (known as a contingent fee) is a percentage of your recovery. “Contingency fee” refers only to those fees charged by attorneys for their legal services. Such fees are not permitted in all types of cases. Court costs and other additional expenses of legal action usually must be paid by the client. We generally offer the option for our clients to defer the payment of expenses until there is a recovery, and if there is no recovery, we risk the loss of all expenses paid on the case.
How long do cases last?
Every case is different, but a typical MDL case or class action will be resolved within two to three years.
What happens if you decide to accept my case?
If we think you have a meritorious case, we will send you a retainer agreement, and if your case is for personal injuries, an authorization for release of medical records. Once you return completed, signed forms, we will obtain your medical records and, assuming the medical records are consistent with our initial evaluation, we will proceed to file your case in the appropriate court. We (and any other firm listed on the retainer agreement) will then be responsible for prosecuting your claims through settlement or trial.
What else will I need to do?
If your case is a mass tort case, you may need to provide us with further documents or information. You may also need to appear for deposition and ultimately testify at trial as a witness if we are unable to settle your case prior to trial.
What is a deposition?
A deposition is an out of court proceeding where you are asked questions under oath as if you were in a courtroom, although there would be no judge present and the deposition typically would take place in an attorney's office. The questions and answers would be transcribed by a qualified court reporter. If your deposition is required, we will notify you well in advance, help you to prepare for the deposition and appear as your attorney at the deposition.
How will I know the status of my case?
You will receive periodic updates on your case as the case progresses to trial and/or settlement. Should you need immediate information on the status of your case, you can always reach us by telephone or email.
How will I know if a settlement of my case is offered?
We are obligated to advise you of any settlement offer made. Should a settlement be offered, we would discuss the offer with you and provide you with our professional opinion on whether to accept or reject it. The decision on accepting or rejecting a settlement offer would ultimately be yours.
What if I have more questions?
Please call us at 404-537-3300. If you leave a voicemail in our general mailbox along with a return phone number, we will respond within 24 hours.