By Gregory H. Haubrich
Attorney at Law
You know those ads on TV asking if you have taken a certain medication or were a veteran exposed to Agent Orange, and if so you may have a right to compensation? Those are ads for people who may have been injured in what we call “mass torts” — where a medical product or medicine or chemical has been found to cause injuries in people who use or are exposed to them.
Hip implants, breast implants, thalidomide, birth control products, and various medicines may pose an unreasonable risk of harm to thousands or even millions of users of those products. It would not be practical for the court system for each such person to file their own lawsuit, so the judicial system has developed a variety of means to consolidate those cases into central courts for management, settlement, and litigation.
You have probably heard the term “class action”. A class action is a single lawsuit in which the claims of many similarly situated people are put together in the same lawsuit. Ultimately most of them settle and formula is set up for individual claimants to each have an opportunity to share in the proceeds of the case.
Then there are MDLs — Multi-District Litigation — in the federal court system if there is a large group of cases filed against the same defendant over the same product or action, all of the cases from all federal district courts will be consolidated into one court to manage during the “discovery” stage, when the parties are required to turn over documents and things that may be pertinent to the claims.
MDLs make the cases work more efficiently, and like class actions often lead to large “global” settlements in which people may receive compensation based on the severity of injuries they have that are proven to be related to the product. Once discovery is complete, the cases that remain unsettled are transferred back home for trial.
Although I have represented clients in mass torts such as breast implant, defective hip implants, and fen-phen litigation, they are not my favorite thing to do. I like to represent individuals and to have individual control over their case as their lawyer. In class actions and MDLs, individuals become part of the herd and their individual stories tend to get lost in the crowd. Still, if you have been injured by a defective medicine or medical implant, I usually know how to evaluate your case, provide strong representation, and associate with a major national firm that specializes in your particular type of case.
Contact me today for a free confidential case evaluation.