How Much Does it Cost to Hire Your Law Firm?
If we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our legal services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. In other words, there are no legal fees unless we make a recovery for you.
What Does Statute of Limitations Mean?
A statute of limitations sets the deadline or maximum period of time within which a lawsuit must be filed. Statutes of limitation differ depending on the circumstances of the case and type of legal claim. The periods of time also vary from state to state and vary depending on whether they are filed in federal or state court. For example, many states require that a personal injury lawsuit be filed within one year from the date of injury, or in some instances, from the date when it should reasonably have been discovered, but other states allow more time. If a lawsuit or claim is not filed before the statutory deadline, the right to sue or file a lawsuit is barred.
Under certain circumstances, a statute of limitations is tolled or extended beyond its deadline. Tolling prevents the time for filing suit from running while a condition exists. Such conditions include if the aggrieved party is a minor. The right to bring suit is tolled until the minor reaches the age of maturity. Or if there is a delay in the discovery of the injury or harm that forms the basis for a lawsuit, the running of the limitations will be tolled, such as a medical malpractice claim where the impact of the doctor’s mistake is not immediately apparent. It may also be inequitable to allow a defendant to use the defense of the running of the limitations period, such as the case of an individual in the position of authority over someone else who intimidates the victim into never reporting the wrongdoing.
What is Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)?
Multidistrict litigation (MDL) is a federal legal procedure in which all pending civil cases of a similar type with common questions of fact that have been filed throughout the United States are transferred to one federal judge for pre-trial proceedings. The purpose of this procedure is to speed up the process of handling complex cases in the federal court system, such as product liability suits or patent infringement cases. By centralizing the pre-trial process, the resources of the parties, counsel and judiciary are conserved and duplicative discovery and inconsistent pretrial rulings can be avoided. This process is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1407 of the United States Code.
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) is the special body that has the authority to decide whether civil actions pending in more than one jurisdiction should be consolidated and where they should be transferred. The JPML is a panel of seven district or appeal court judges from different judicial circuits who are appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407. The Panel members continue to serve as judges in their appointed courts, but they periodically meet to review requests to consolidate in various locations around the country in order to facilitate the participation of parties and their counsel.
The Panel’s decision to consolidate is based on a number of criteria, with the first and foremost being whether there are one or more common questions of fact. Also considered is whether transfer would be convenient for the parties and witnesses, the residence of the principal witnesses, the locations where the actions were initially filed and the likelihood that transfer will avoid conflicting rulings. Economy and convenience become the prevailing factors. Once it is determined that transfer is appropriate, the Panel must select the appropriate judicial district to handle the litigation. There are no statutory guidelines governing the assignment of the consolidated case, but the Panel considers the location of the judicial district in relation to that of the parties, the business headquarters of the parties, the location with the most relevant documents, and how easily the location of a judicial district can be reached. Ultimately, the Panel seeks to place transferred cases in courts that have the time to oversee the complexities of the litigation.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit is a form of lawsuit in which a large group of people that have been injured by a common act or set of actions collectively bring a claim to court. One or several named plaintiffs bring the suit on behalf of a proposed class. These sorts of cases often arise in the context of employment situations, such as when a company is accused of illegal hiring or salary practices. Or they arise in products liability cases in which a suit is filed against a drug company for making illegal claims about their product, or for causing deaths or physical damage to those taking the drug.
Once a class action is initiated, the class must be certified pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (adopted by many states in varying forms). The proposed class must meet certain characteristics in order for the action to proceed. First, it must be so large as to make individual suits impractical. There also must be common legal or factual claims. Third, the claims or defenses must be typical of the class. The representative parties must also adequately protect the interests of the class. In many cases, it must also be shown that there is a risk of substantial prejudice from separate actions, that declaratory or injunctive relief benefitting the class as a whole would be appropriate, or that common issues between the class and the defendants will predominate the proceedings, as opposed to individual fact-specific conflicts between class members and the opposing party, and that the class action, instead of individual litigation, is a superior vehicle for resolution of the disputes.
In order to keep the class members informed about the litigation and proceedings, a notice procedure is followed. First a notice describing the class action must be sent, published, or broadcast to class members. Class members will have the opportunity to opt out of the class and proceed with their own litigation if they so choose, assuming timely notice to the class counsel and court. If there is a settlement proposal, the court will usually direct the class counsel to send a settlement notice to all the members of the certified class, informing them of the details of the proposed settlement
The monetary awards from a class action lawsuit are split into two portions: punitive and compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are meant to address the actual damage suffered by the class members, such as illness or loss of life. Punitive damages are a form of punishment for the entity(ies) that committed the act causing the harm. These damages can be particularly high when it is demonstrated the entity(ies) has shown great disregard for the health, safety or emotional well being of the class members.
Attorneys in these types of cases work on a contingency basis, meaning they do not charge any fee if the suit is not successful, but if it is successful, they will receive a portion of the award.
Class action lawsuits have a number of advantages. By aggregating a large number of individual claims into one representational lawsuit, it increases the efficiency of the legal process and lowers the costs of litigation. Second, a class action may overcome the problem with small recoveries not providing the incentive for any individual to bring an action. Third, a class action can ensure that all class members receive relief whereby a court can equitably divide the assets amongst all the members if they win the case. Finally, a class action avoids the situation where different outcomes create inconsistent standards of conduct for the defendant.
What Does Products Liability Mean?
Products liability refers to the area of law in which any or all parties along the chain of manufacture of any product available to the public are held responsible for damage caused by the product. These parties can include the manufacturers, assemblers, distributors, suppliers, all the way down to the retailers. A products liability claim can be based on one or more causes of action, including design defects, manufacturing defects, and defects in marketing or failure to warn. Design defects exist before the product is manufactured, making the product dangerous to use. Manufacturing defects occur during the construction or production of the product. Defects in marketing deal with improper instructions and failures to warn consumers of dangers in the product. Such claims may succeed even when products are used incorrectly by the consumer, as long as the incorrect use was foreseeable by the manufacturer or other party in the supply chain.
Products liability claims are generally based on strict liability rather than negligence, meaning a manufacturer is held liable if the product is defective regardless of whether the manufacturer acted negligently. The focus is not on the behavior of the manufacturer but the product itself, so an injured party does not have to prove what a manufacturer did or did not do wrong in its design or manufacturing process. This standard is based on the notion that a manufacturer with its financial resources is better situated to absorb the cost of liability and would consider such expense in setting price for its products.
However, it is not always clear what standard is being applied in all cases. Strict liability is always applied to manufacturing defect cases, but due to the harsh nature in applying liability to manufacturers absent negligence, it is not generally applied to design and warning defects. Courts may state that they are applying strict liability in those instances, but when they introduce standards that deal with the reasonableness of a warning or apply a consumer expectations test, these principles are more aligned with negligence standards rather than strict liability even if they are still focused on the product rather than the manufacturer.