What is product liability?

Product liability is a legal term for holding manufacturers or suppliers accountable for the injuries caused to the people that use their products.

What are the different types of product liability cases?

Typical product liability lawsuits claim design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects.

  • A design defect is a flaw in a product’s design causing it to be inherently unsafe even if the product was manufactured correctly.
  • A manufacturing defect is a problem that occurs during the manufacture or assembly of a product.
  • A marketing defect includes either improper or inadequate warning labels or instructions for dangerous products, or misleading marketing and advertisements.

Should I participate directly in a defective product manufacturer’s claims process or settlement program?

No. Large medical device and pharmaceutical companies will offer a claims process or settlement program designed to pay only for existing medical expenses. They may offer nothing for revision surgeries, future medical treatments, pain and suffering, lost wages or loss of consortium. A products liability lawsuit is intended to recover all of these damages.

What is Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)?

Multidistrict Litigation is the consolidation of many plaintiffs’ cases from federal district courts around the country into one federal district court to streamline discovery and pre-trial proceedings, and to conduct bellwether trials. The Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (JPML) in Washington, D.C., which is comprised of seven federal district court judges, decides whether to consolidate certain cases with other similar cases. The JPML also decides to which court and judge to transfer the cases.

What is the difference between an MDL and a class action lawsuit?

In an MDL, each plaintiff’s lawsuit remains independent. No plaintiff is required to take a settlement as part of a class. If a plaintiff is unable to settle his or her case through the MDL, they may return to their local federal court for additional proceedings or trial. In a class-action lawsuit, all plaintiffs are part of one single lawsuit and are subject to the group settlement and/or trial strategy of the lawyers representing the entire class.

Can my case be part of an MDL even if I do not live in the state where the MDL is located?

Yes. Once the MDL is formed all federal cases nationwide must be transferred and/or filed directly into the MDL. Because our attorneys are licensed in federal courts and the JPML, this allows us to represents clients throughout the United States.

What is a bellwether trial?

A bellwether trial is a preliminary, or “test” trial ordered by the federal court overseeing an MDL. These trials test jury reaction to a case or cases selected as representative of the MDL plaintiff pool. The outcome of an MDL’s bellwether trials may encourage an appropriate group settlement of all cases consolidated under that MDL.

Why are product liability lawsuits consolidated into an MDL?

In product liability cases, many people nationwide often suffer similar damages from the same drug or medical device. For example, when a medical device implant is recalled, many patients may require revision surgery due to the recall of one product. Federal courts will consolidate individual claims to efficiently handle the lawsuits.

How does an MDL benefit plaintiffs?

Consolidated plaintiffs have the benefit of group negotiating power during the important pre-trial phase of a lawsuit.

Do I also have a medical malpractice claim against my doctor in connection with a defective medical device or drug?

In certain cases, both product liability and medical malpractice claims may be brought in connection with a defective medical device or drug. If the surgeon who implanted your medical device or the doctor who prescribed you the drug ignored or disregarded the manufacturer’s warnings or instructions, then you may have also have a medical malpractice case against the doctor. You may also have a medical malpractice case against the surgeon who implanted your medical device if the surgeon failed to implant the device correctly or was otherwise negligent when performing the surgery.

What is a tort?

A tort is a wrongful civil act (not criminal) that results in injury to another person or a person’s property or reputation. As a result, the injured party is entitled to money damages. There are three types of torts: negligence, intentional acts and strict liability.

  • Negligence is a careless act or failure to act reasonably where one knew or should have known to do so (e.g., accidents).
  • Intentional acts are exactly that — intentional acts to harm (e.g., assault and battery).
  • Strict Liability is liability without fault. Strict liability applies to inherently dangerous activities, such as housing wild animals. In many cases, manufactures are held strictly liable for injuries to the public caused by their medical devices and pharmaceutical drug products.

What are the types of damages in a tort case?

There are three types of damages that may be awarded in a tort case: compensatory damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief.

  • Compensatory damages consist of monetary compensation for what a plaintiff has lost or suffered as the result of a tort.
  • Punitive damages are monies paid by a defendant as punishment for committing a tort maliciously or intentionally, in order to discourage similar future acts by the defendant and others.
  • Injunctive relief is granted to stop someone from doing something and/or to require certain actions. Injunctive relief may be granted along with money damages.