What is the Difference Between Mass Tort, Class Action, and an MDL?
There is a lot of discussion in the media about mass torts, class actions and MDL’s, but a lot of people don’t understand the difference. A mass tort is simply a type of injury, while a class action and an MDL are methods for getting people compensated for that injury. A mass tort, as the name describes, involves a situation where a mass of people, hundreds or even thousands, are injured by the same defective product. The typical situation is when a prescription drug is recalled after it has harmed hundreds if not thousands of people. A class action and an MDL (multi district litigation) are methods for compensating people who are victims of mass torts. A class action, however, is significantly different from an MDL. In a class action, there is just one lawyer, one case, one judge and jury, and one verdict that applies to everyone, even though the class action has been filed on behalf of hundreds if not thousands of people. As a general rule, personal injury cases and wrongful death cases are not good candidates for class actions because each person’s harm or loss is different. An MDL is generally the better way to go if you’ve had a serious injury or suffered the loss of a loved one. In an MDL, each person has their own attorney, they file their own case before the judge and jury that’s appropriate for that case, and they each get their own trial. Now, the reason it’s called an MDL or a multi-district litigation is that when these cases, sometimes hundreds or thousands of them, are all filed across the country, the courts require that they be consolidated before one judge, just for the pre-trial proceedings. That is just for the proceedings where the evidence is collected and documented. That saves the clients a lot of time and expense, but at the end of that process, the cases are sent back to be tried by that client’s lawyer in the courtroom that that client chose and for the client to receive their own individual verdict. They’re not bound by what happens in other cases that were filed in that MDL or multi district litigation. As a general rule, we at Roberts and Roberts recommend that when you have the option that you go with the multi district litigation or the individual case as opposed to a class action to be sure that you receive the individual attention and compensation that you deserve.