Class Action Lawsuits and Multidistrict Litigation
NC Mass Tort Lawyers Represent Victims of Defective Drugs and Medical Implants
News reports often talk about “mass torts” or “class action lawsuits,” but they rarely provide much explanation beyond a headline with a huge dollar figure. You may hear about the VA paying out $2.2 billion to claimants exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Or you may read about $2.475 billion being paid by DePuy Orthopaedics to settle hip implant suits. But what do these mass tort settlements mean to regular people?
Mass torts consolidate many of the same types of claims into one lawsuit. Often, these involve defective medical devices, medications or other consumer items. This is more cost-effective for the plaintiffs, since each victim does not have to file and fight an individual claim. However, you still need an experienced attorney on your side to advocate for your individual rights. The North Carolina mass tort lawyers at Riddle & Brantley, LLP have experience with both class action lawsuits and multidistrict litigation (MDL), both common types of mass torts.
What are Class Action Lawsuits?
Lawsuits are expensive. When a large number of people are harmed in a very similar manner, it often makes sense to combine their claims into one lawsuit. In this way, both sides can spend less on lawyers and expert witnesses. Additionally, the court system can avoid being clogged with hundreds or thousands of trials.
Class action lawsuits are one type of mass tort. In class actions, a few lead plaintiffs, called the “class representatives,” bring a legal action on behalf of a group of victims. This group, the “class,” must all have sustained similar harm from the same defendant or defendants. For example, if a pharmaceutical company recalls a certain medication due to drug defects, everyone who took that medication and sustained injury could be part of the class. The class representatives may hire mass tort lawyers and bring a lawsuit against the company on behalf of all victims. These victims may then submit individual claims to recover a portion of any settlement or verdict that results.
In a class action, the individual victims do not argue their individual claims. Additionally, the court must certify the class, legally acknowledging that every victim’s injuries are similar enough that a single decision can fairly settle all claims. This certification can be difficult to obtain. For this reason, class action lawsuits are generally less common than most people assume.
What is Multidistrict Litigation?
Of course, no two injuries or situations are exactly identical. Sometimes, the victims also have claims under state laws that make some claims different from those of other victims hurt in the same way who live somewhere else in the country. So courts have devised a process called “MDL” or multidistrict litigation, which does not require class certification and preserves the individual claims of all victims.
Basically, the court combines all the cases in one court for part of the litigation process. This is typically for the discovery phase, where documents are exchanged and expert witnesses are deposed. Many of the injured victims will have different lawyers, scattered across the country. So the plaintiffs’ lawyers will get together and select a Steering Committee that will oversee important decisions on how to conduct the litigation.
After the discovery phase is complete, the court will often order a “bellwether trial” where one of the individual victims, or plaintiffs, will have his or her case tried in front of a jury. This jury verdict is only binding on the one plaintiff, not on the entire class. But the bellwether helps guide both the plaintiffs and the defense in estimating the issues important to jurors.
Usually, after one or two bellwether trials, both sides will reach a settlement of all claims. This is what you are seeing when you hear about a “billion-dollar settlement” in the news. However, reaching a settlement is not the resolution of the MDL. Each victim must then make a claim for and receive their portion of the settlement. At this point, it is important to have an attorney you trust. You need a law firm that will guide you to help you maximize your individual recovery from the group settlement. We like the MDL avenue for resolution of cases involving injury from bad drugs or defective medical devices.
How Do I Join a Class Action Lawsuit or MDL?
The first step in joining a class action or MDL is speaking with an experienced attorney. Ultimately, you need an advocate looking out for your best interests who will give your case individual attention, even though you may qualify as part of a larger class. The mass tort lawyers at Riddle & Brantley, LLP share a commitment to this kind of personalized attention.
Our law firm is currently involved in several mass torts and class action lawsuits for defective products. Many of these involve dangerous medications. We are currently reviewing and accepting cases involving the following dangerous drugs:
Our attorneys are no longer accepting new cases involving the following pharmaceuticals, but we continue to handle ongoing claims:
We are also involved in claims regarding defective medical devices. Also, we are receiving calls from numerous claimants with ongoing claims involving injuries stemming from Johnson and Johnson’s baby talcum powder.
We are currently reviewing and accepting cases involving:
Our law firm is no longer accepting new cases related to the following products, but we continue to work on ongoing claims:
Our law firm has the manpower and resources to represent our clients’ interests in these giant mass tort lawsuits. But we are still a small-town law firm in North Carolina. Our clients can come in, meet with their attorney and get the personal attention they deserve.
More Questions? Contact Our North Carolina Mass Tort Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one sustained injuries from a defective medical product or bad drug and believe you might have a claim, then please contact us. We will always provide you with a free consultation, and we will help you if we can. If your case qualifies as part of a class action or MDL, then we can help you join the class while still protecting your individual best interests.
We have offices throughout North Carolina, in Goldsboro, Raleigh, Jacksonville and Kinston, for your convenience. If you cannot travel to meet with us, then we are happy to come to you, wherever you are. Call (800)525-7111 or contact us online to schedule a meeting.