Not all cases involving hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs are class actions. Class cases make the most sense where the wrongful conduct applies the same to everyone affected. Think of a corporation that misrepresents its financial condition. All shareholders suffer the exact same loss in share value.
But what about when the wrongful conduct affects lots of people, but each in their own individual way? Those cases are called mutli-district litigation, or MDL for short. MDL’s are common with defective medical devices, where the defect is the same in every case, but the way it affects each person is unique to their circumstances.
The defective Stryker hip implants is an example of a current MDL. For every implant, the metal in the hip joint begins to fret, or corrode, causing pain and swelling in the hip joint. Some affected patients may have to have a revision surgery, some won’t, while some may require multiple surgeries.
What does this mean to you:
Class actions get a bad name, perhaps not without merit, for automatically including people without their knowledge. MDL’s on the other hand, require the plaintiff to actively pursue a claim for their harms and losses.