What is a multidistrict litigation (MDL)?
Certain cases deal with highly complex issues that involve large numbers of people who are facing similar questions. These may be questions of discovery or expert witnesses, and they’re tough and time-consuming to answer. In these situations, similar cases may be consolidated and transferred to a single court for common pre-trial litigation proceedings. This streamlining process is called a multidistrict litigation, or MDL.
A multidistrict litigation is not the same as a class action lawsuit. While cases are grouped together pre-trial through the MDL process in order to answer common questions once and for all, they’re still individually resolved. In contrast, class actions go to court all at once and receive a blanket outcome.
The idea behind the MDL process is that combining lawsuits of this nature will speed up the process and avoid backlog. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decides whether to consolidate your case with similar ones.
Lawsuits involving things like airplane crashes and dangerous prescription drug and faulty medical device claims often become part of an MDL. Both individual cases and class action cases are subject to consolidation. The MDL process can swiftly and significantly change the status of your case.