As the number of claims filed continues to multiply, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has ordered all paraquat lawsuits to be consolidated. The paraquat multidistrict litigation, MDL No. 3004, will be administered by the Honorable Nancy J. Rosenstengel at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation’s decision indicates that paraquat lawsuits are rapidly building momentum and could soon develop into a mass tort.
How Is Multidistrict Litigation Beneficial?
When personal injury or product liability cases affect large numbers of plaintiffs, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation can implement special pretrial proceedings known as multidistrict litigation. In which multiple claims sharing common legal issues are provisionally combined and moved to a district court. The chosen district court supervises the discovery and pretrial litigation for the group of cases. Multidistrict litigation helps conserve resources while supporting consistent court rulings for different claims involving similar matters of law. By eliminating duplicate discovery demands, depositions, and other pretrial procedures, they help streamline cases. Upon completion of pretrial proceedings, several lawsuits may be designated to serve as bellwether trials. The judgments from the bellwether trials often serve as a basis for possible settlement amounts in the remaining claims. Unsettled lawsuits are transferred back to be tried at the courts of original jurisdiction. While the issues surrounding the plaintiffs’ injuries are similar, the injuries can vary in severity. Thus, multidistrict litigations provide victims with an opportunity to address the nature of their damages independently.