FAQs: Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Cases
April 1, 2015
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When considering whether to pursue a lawsuit in a pharmaceutical or medical device case, there are many questions that arise. Pharmaceutical and medical device lawyer Sara Anderson answers some of the most common questions she is asked when speaking with a potential client.

Q: Is my case part of a class action?

Sara: Pharmaceutical cases are generally considered to be mass tort. In mass torts, cases are typically filed individually and then consolidated for pre-trial proceedings. Consolidation is done either in a state court or a federal court where the cases are assigned to a single judge who makes decisions for all of the cases. In federal court, mass torts are often consolidated in what is called a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). An MDL allows cases that are filed in different federal courts across the country to be consolidated in one court for pre-trial proceedings. Then, when the cases are ready for trial they are sent back to the court where they were originally filed.


Q: How long will my case take?

Sara: Mass tort cases can often take several years or more to become resolved. There are many different aspects of a case that need to play out during the pre-trial phase. This includes discovery, where parties exchange information and depositions are conducted. It also includes what are known as bellwether trials. A bellwether trial is used to try a widely contested issue. Bellwether trials are conducted in the MDL or state consolidation court, and are generally a few cases that are chosen because they are representative of aspects that exist in all or many of the cases filed in that consolidation.

Q: How much time do I have to bring a lawsuit?

Sara: A statute of limitations is the amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit. The amount of time you have depends on a couple different things:

  • First is the type of claim, such as personal injury or wrongful death.
  • The second is the state where the injury happened. Each state sets its own statutes of limitations. For example, in Maryland you have three years to file a lawsuit for personal injury and in Virginia you only have two years. The statute of limitations generally starts to run when the injury happens, though sometimes there is a discovery rule that allows for delaying the time when the statute begins to run. If you do not file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations then you are barred from filing it, which means that you will not be allowed to file your claim in court. It is recommended that you contact a lawyer sooner rather than later if you wish to pursue a claim.

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Q: Is my case against my doctor?

Sara: Pharmaceutical and medical device cases are most often related to the design of the product or warnings, or lack of warnings, given by the product manufacturer. Based on this, the cases are generally brought against the company that manufactures the drug or medical device rather than, for example, a doctor who prescribed a certain drug.

If you are considering a pharmaceutical or medical device case and have questions, contact our experienced attorneys at Ashcraft & Gerel today either online or by calling (866) 709-0505.