Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Multi-District Litigation vs the state court (pluses and minuses)

[This is a brief summary of the down side of multi district litigation...written by the Hip Recall Alliance which appears to be a group of law firms  who do not take part in the MDL process.  There is another side to this story but this thier perspective on signing on to the MDL process.]

Multidistrict Litigation takes all similar DePuy hip recall cases currently in federal court throughout the United States and transfers them to a single federal court where they go through pre-trial proceedings and discovery at one time.

Discovery is when a patient's attorneys have the opportunity to force Johnson & Johnson to turn over documents. Discovery helps determine what the company knew about problems with the DePuy ASR and when they knew it.

After the MDL is complete, your case is sent to a different federal court for trial.
Official Court Seal of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict LItigation

WHAT IS THE LARGEST AND LONGEST LASTING MDL?

The largest and longest lasting MDL was created in 1991 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to handle asbestos injury cases. Now, 20 years later, there are still thousands of these cases pending in that multidistrict litigation procedure.

WHY THE MDL IS BAD FOR YOUR CASE:

  1. Your case is taken away from your attorney and handed over to a committee of plaintiff's attorneys who you have never met and didn't hire.
  2. Your lawyer is cut out of the process until your case is returned from the MDL for trial. At that point your attorney has to try your case with only the evidence given to him/her by the MDL. Effectively, your lawyer looses control of your case.
  3. For DePuy ASR Recall patients, federal court is almost always NOT considered the best venue for a plaintiff's medical product liability case. Many states have more favorable procedures and laws for patients in medical product liability cases. For example, federal courts will often restrict your side's experts from testifying and even dismiss your product liability case altogether based on technical evidentiary rulings. That means sometimes your product liability case won't even go to trial. In contrast, state courts tend to allow juries of fellow citizens to decide cases

HOW MULTIDISTRICT LITIGATION (MDL) BENEFITS DEPUY:

  1. Large corporations such as DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson prefer the MDL because they only have to defend a single case.
  2. Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. can then devote their armies of lawyers to the single case.
  3. If the MDL judge rules that Johnson and Johnson can keep a document secret, it remains a secret.
  4. In contrast, if there are multiple state court cases, when one judge rules that Johnson & Johnson can hide a document, another judge will likely require them to produce it.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY STATE COURT CASE IS SENT TO THE MDL?

The Hip Recall Alliance believes there is little downside to filing your case in state court. This is the venue that is in YOUR best interests, not DePuy's. If DePuy succeeds in forcing your case into the MDL after all, then you will proceed just like thousands of other hip recall patients going through mulitdistrict litigation. The Hip Recall Alliance fights for your rights against these huge corporations as aggressively as the law will allow.

[If there are any lawyers from the MDL committee reading this, feel free to provide a responce and I will publish it.]

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