Cases involving common issues may be consolidated into a Multidistrict Litigation, or MDL. Cases in a MDL are consolidated for pretrial proceedings, but individually evaluated. The cases may also be resolved in a group setting through what is known as a global settlement.
What is a global settlement?
A global settlement occurs when defendants settle a large number of cases at once for a single sum of money. Defendants oftentimes prefer to settle all cases in a MDL at once instead of trying each one individually. Although cases settle in a group, they are evaluated individually.
How is a global settlement reached?
Attorneys for plaintiffs in a MDL and attorneys for defendants, often big corporations, negotiate a settlement taking into account many factors. For example, in product liability cases involving recalled medical devices, factors may include:
- Conduct of the defendant(s)
- Scientific evidence and publications
- The product’s benefits and risks
- Information conveyed to doctors and the medical community about the risks
- Information conveyed to patients
- Role of the FDA in the product’s approval and recall
After taking these points into consideration, the parties will agree on one amount to resolve all cases in a MDL.
Who decides how much each individual gets?
The MDL judge will appoint a neutral third party, known as a Special Master or Settlement Administrator, to evaluate and value each individual’s case. Along with the factors above, the Special Master or Settlement Administrator considers case specific factors. Examples of factors in a recalled medical device case may include:
- Date of implant of device
- Injuries related to the device
- Extraordinary injuries
- When the lawsuit was filed
- Preexisting medical conditions
Do I have to accept the amount offered?
When the Special Master or Settlement Administrator determines an individual settlement amount, your attorney will let you know. The decision whether to accept the amount is entirely up to you. Your attorney will make a recommendation on whether to accept the award. They will discuss the pros and cons of accepting the award, as well as the next steps if you decide to decline the settlement. It is important to remember that your attorney is acting in your best interest and wants the most favorable outcome for you.