Good to Know: Pharmaceutical Cases Are Not Class Actions, Just Many, Many Lawsuits at the Same Time

Many people are under the impression that all pharmaceutical cases are class actions. This is typically not the case. Instead, what often happens is that as many people start filling their own lawsuits involving the same drug or medical device, the court system is overwhelmed with common legal questions that arise across the many different individual suits. When several different judges are deciding the same legal controversies, inconsistencies can result. One method the federal court system has for dealing with an overwhelming amount of lawsuits with many common legal questions is to create what is known as an “MDL” or Multidistrict Litigation judge to preside over all the claims. Once an MDL is established, Defendants typically try to get all the cases that are filed against them in front of the MDL judge to make the litigation easier and cheaper for them.

Individual cases that are transferred to an MDL court are still individual lawsuits. They do not become a “class action.” When it comes to pharmaceutical lawsuits like the ones Baron & Budd is handling involving Risperdal, Levequin, Transvaginal Mesh devices and others, the ability to successfully navigate a case through an MDL depends on the law firm’s experience with such complex litigation.

We do not want anyone who has been injured to refrain from speaking to a lawyer or to choose not to file a pharmaceutical lawsuit because they incorrectly decide that a pharmaceutical lawsuit “Is not worth it,” as the stereotype of a “class action” might suggest.

“Not worth it” for class actions is what some people feel when they think of cases that take many years to settle, provide little compensation for the victims (sometimes coupons for a product) and make more money for the lawyers rather than for the victims. There are some cases where class actions are appropriate. If many, many people are harmed, but only harmed in small ways – class actions provide a great remedy. But in situations where individuals have suffered great harm, a class action approach is inappropriate. 

Let’s look at the real goal of pharmaceutical lawsuits and class actions. In both instances, these methods of justice involve a person or group of people who have been harmed speaking up so that they may, in addition to financial compensation, help ensure that other people are not harmed in the same way.

People file lawsuits so that we can create a social good out of a bad situation. We do it so that the ones who come after us are protected, because we are the type of person who would never turn a blind eye to something wrong, unjust, negligent or dangerous.

While class actions work for some kinds of claims, they are generally not appropriate for pharmaceutical cases involving individualized injuries that have resulted in substantial harm. If you choose to file such a case, it will always be your case.

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