What is a Multidistrict Litigation?

By Osborne & Francis
October 25, 2023

If you’ve suffered harm due to a faulty product or a dangerous drug, you’re probably not alone. Tens of thousands of other people could be going through the same thing. Imagine how long it would take for the manufacturer of the product or drug to defend each case individually. It could take decades, depending on how many lawyers they have.

That’s where multidistrict litigation (MDL) comes in. It’s a way to speed up the legal process and resolve cases faster. But like other areas of the law, MDL cases are highly complex, requiring the skill of an experienced attorney. 

At Osborne & Francis, our lawyers have years of experience representing people who suffered injuries due to a manufacturer’s negligence. We also have a deep understanding of how an MDL case works. Put that knowledge to use by contacting us online or calling (561) 264-6238 for a free consultation. 

What is a Multidistrict Litigation?

Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) is a mechanism used in the United States federal court system to streamline and consolidate the handling of numerous civil lawsuits involving common factual or legal issues. When multiple lawsuits are filed across different federal district courts, and they share similar allegations or claims, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) can choose to move the cases to a federal court. This will help coordinate pretrial proceedings.

The primary objective of MDL is to improve the efficiency of the legal process when dealing with complex cases involving many plaintiffs and defendants. By consolidating similar cases into one court, MDL helps prevent inconsistent rulings, reduces the burden on both the court system and parties involved, and facilitates the management of extensive discovery and evidence.

Examples of MDLs We Handle

At Osborne & Francis, we’ve represented clients in MDLs for several years. The following is a brief sample of some cases we’ve handled. 

Cheerleader Sexual Abuse 

We participated in an MDL against many of the largest cheerleading organizations in the country. Allegations against the organizations included a failure to protect plaintiffs against sexual assault, negligent security and monitoring, and many others.

Stryker Hip Implant Lawsuits

Plaintiffs in this MDL allege that Stryker manufactured faulty hip implants that caused severe physical issues. These issues included heart, thyroid and nervous system damage.


Our firm is representing clients in an MDL against the makers of Tylenol and other medications containing acetaminophen. Studies indicate that pregnant women taking acetaminophen-based drugs are more likely to develop ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder).

When are MDLs Used?

MDLs are commonly employed in mass tort cases where many individuals have suffered harm or injuries from a shared source. These cases often arise due to defective products, dangerous drugs, environmental disasters, or other widespread issues. When a product or event causes harm to numerous people across different states or jurisdictions, separate lawsuits may be filed in various federal courts. MDLs increase efficiency by eliminating duplicative efforts.

For instance, if a manufacturer faces hundreds of product liability lawsuits alleging injuries caused by a defective medical device, the JPML might consolidate these cases into an MDL. Similarly, when multiple pharmaceutical drug lawsuits claim adverse effects from a particular drug, an MDL may be initiated to centralize the proceedings.

How do MDLs Start?

The process of establishing an MDL starts with filing a motion with the JPML, which consists of a panel of seven federal judges responsible for overseeing the MDL process. The motion must demonstrate that the cases share common questions of fact or legal issues, making consolidation beneficial.

The JPML evaluates several factors when deciding whether to form an MDL, including the number of cases involved, the similarity of the claims, the locations of the lawsuits, the convenience of the parties and witnesses, and other relevant considerations. If the JPML determines that centralization is appropriate, it will transfer the individual cases to a single federal court, known as the "transferee court," to manage the pretrial proceedings.

How to Join a Multidistrict Litigation

If your lawsuit falls within an existing MDL, you don't need to take any specific action to join the consolidation. Once your attorney files your case in a federal court that is part of the MDL, it will automatically transfer to the transferee court responsible for the MDL proceedings.

However, if your claim is related to an ongoing MDL, and you have not yet filed your lawsuit, you can consult with an attorney experienced in mass tort cases. They will assess your situation, determine whether your claim fits within the scope of the MDL, and advise you on the appropriate venue for filing your claim.

What Compensation Can I Receive from an MDL?

The compensation that plaintiffs can receive from an MDL depends on various factors, including the specific circumstances of their cases, the severity of their injuries or damages, and the strength of their evidence. If the MDL litigation results in a settlement or favorable verdict for the plaintiffs, compensation may include monetary damages to cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related losses.

It's important to note that each plaintiff's compensation may vary, as the outcome of an MDL can differ from case to case. Some plaintiffs may receive more significant compensation due to the severity of their injuries, while others may receive a different amount based on the specific circumstances of their claims.

How are MDLs Resolved?

MDLs are typically resolved through a combination of settlement negotiations and bellwether trials. Bellwether trials involve selecting a small group of representative cases to be tried before the rest of the cases in the MDL. The outcomes of these trials serve as indicators of how similar cases might fare in court.

Bellwether trials are crucial for both the plaintiffs and defendants, as they can encourage settlement negotiations or provide insight into the strength of each side's arguments. If the parties settle during or after the bellwether trials, it can lead to a global resolution of many or all of the remaining cases in the MDL.

However, if no global settlement is reached, the remaining cases may be remanded back to their original districts for individual trials or further proceedings. It's important to understand that MDLs are complex and may take a long time to resolve. 

Contact Osborne & Francis to Speak with an Experienced Mass Tort Attorney

Hiring an experienced mass torts attorney is essential when dealing with complex and large-scale litigation involving multiple plaintiffs and defendants for several reasons:

Specialized Knowledge

Mass tort cases often involve intricate legal issues, scientific evidence, and complex regulatory frameworks. An experienced mass torts attorney possesses specialized knowledge and expertise in this area of law, enabling them to navigate the complexities of the case effectively.

Resource Allocation

These cases often require substantial resources, including expert witnesses, extensive research, and access to databases with relevant information. A seasoned attorney will have the resources and network to build a strong case for their clients.

Prior Experience

Experienced mass tort attorneys have likely handled similar cases in the past. Their prior experience allows them to anticipate challenges, understand defense strategies, and develop effective legal strategies to secure fair compensation for their clients.

Negotiation Skills

A skilled attorney can negotiate with large corporations, insurance companies, and other defendants. They can leverage their negotiation skills to pursue favorable settlements on behalf of their clients without sacrificing their rights.

Individualized Attention

Despite the scale of mass tort litigation, clients deserve personalized attention and compassionate representation. A strong mass tort lawyer can provide individualized support, addressing each client's needs.

At Osborne & Francis, we check all these boxes and many others. If you think you may have grounds to join an MDL, call (561) 264-6238 or use our online form for a free case review.

J. Davis

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Quick and fair resolution to a unique case. On advice of my own attorney, I engaged Joseph Osborne of Osborne & Francis of Boca Raton, FL. Mr. Osborne had considerable experience in cases such as mine and the results showed that. Mr. Osborne and his staff were very helpful, kept me up to date, and listened to my input. The settlement was very fair as far as I am concerned.

C. Smith

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“I am so thankful for EVERYONE, the entire staff at Osborne & Francis Law, for mentoring me through the mediation process with my hip replacement failures. I didn't realize how MUCH pressure they relieved me of by helping me deal with the reality of this traumatic time in my life, as it was OVER so quickly with a positive result. My family is grateful to have their mom HAPPY & FOCUSED on the future, rather than worrying over what happened in the past! FAST FORWARD, we are LIVING LIFE to the fullest once again!”

E. Holland

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Dennis and the other Osborne & Francis staff were amazing! Our case was HUGE and required tender loving care. Everyone on our case did their part by putting all the puzzle pieces together. We were given step by step updates and put at ease when our nerves got the best of us. For every inquiry we made we received a timely response...You are appreciated!

Erica F.

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"Best personal injury attorney around, I could not be happier! I was seriously injured in a car accident and Osborne and Francis helped me through the entire process. I was blown away by how knowledgeable the staff and attorneys are at this incredible law firm. I would not hesitate to recommend this law firm to friends and family!"

T. Andrews

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“Attorneys Greg Francis and Ryan Fletcher at Osborne & Francis Law Firm represented me in my personal injury case.The defendant drew a line in the sand and was adamant on a settlement amount I was almost willing to accept. After the dust settled and the smoke cleared, we settled for 3 times that amount!!! When they say ‘Real Tough Lawyers,’ they mean it.”

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