What is a Bellwether Trial?
Bellwether trials occur when many plaintiffs file lawsuits against the same party or group of parties. These cases act as test cases in extensive mass tort litigation to give everyone involved a clear idea of the compensation each person should receive.
In the legal system, it is impossible to try every lawsuit when thousands of plaintiffs file against the same party. Instead, a bellwether plaintiff will be chosen to represent the larger group and determine the result of future litigation.
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, are legal advocates for families who have been injured through medical negligence. We provide immediate legal advice and representation to ensure our clients receive the maximum compensation they deserve.
Call our product liability attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
What is a Bellwether Trial?
Bellwether trials often occur when many individuals are injured by the same medical device or defective tools/products. A bellwether trial will involve consolidating many lawsuits taken from a larger group to be tried first.
This trial will determine the settlement of any other cases for both the plaintiffs and defendants.
When thousands of lawsuits are filed against one party, bellwether trials create the ability to try a few cases and determine the course of action for all lawsuits filed, now and in the future.
Understanding Mass Tort Litigation
A mass tort is a civil action involving more than one plaintiff filed against the same defendant. Many mass tort cases occur after an incident or product that has harmed many people.
Mass torts often involve:
- Harmful side effects from a prescription drug
- Injuries from a defective product or faulty medical equipment
- Mass injuries from a significant accident
Mass tort litigation occurs to consolidate the trial of many cases and help a large group of people with similar injuries.
When mass torts are tried, the other plaintiffs can receive the same benefits as those in the preceding case.
What is Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)?
To speed up settling mass torts, an MDL is often filed. Cases in the MDL include civil lawsuits that all ask the “common question of fact” pending in many different federal district courts. The federal legal procedure helps to fast-track these lawsuits.
When cases in the MDL are created, they are transferred to a single federal district court and one residing district MDL judge. They will handle all settlement negotiations in a court, and the benefits will span all parties involved.
By fast-tracking and consolidating these cases, they can be presented to a judge in pretrial proceedings. These proceedings will choose the bellwether plaintiffs from the circumstances involved.
Benefits of multidistrict litigations include:
- Consolidation of similar cases with the same defendant
- Use of fewer federal court resources with a singular MDL judge or MDL panel
- Prevent inconsistency in settlement and court rulings
- Avoid duplication of discovery in all parties involved
Once an MDL panel makes a decision, they can move forward and determine the outcome of all remaining cases. Most of the remaining suits can then expect similar compensation and settlement from the bellwether trial results.
How is a Bellwether Trial Selected?
If thousands of cases have been filed against the same defendants, the judge will choose only a small number for the bellwether trials. The essential goal of a bellwether trial is to reach a global settlement for each pending case.
Bellwether trials will be chosen by an MDL judge based on rules and standards outlined by the courts. First, the single judge will select cases to serve as candidates that represent a larger sample of the claims filed. In some cases, the computer will select these candidates.
Once the cases have been chosen, attorneys will conduct fact discovery to learn more about the claims. The bellwether process involves being fair to both sides. As fact discovery continues, both parties will have an opportunity to choose cases that best represent their chances of winning.
How Many Bellwether Trials Are Used to Reach Settlement?
The goal of bellwether trials is to reach a global settlement for all cases. Since there may be thousands of similar cases, this leads to the obvious question of how many cases it takes to settle. This may require numerous trials before a settlement can be reached in each lawsuit.
The number of bellwether trials selected depends on a few factors, such as:
- Size of litigation
- The willingness of the defendant to settle
- The severity of injury or damages
- Early results of bellwether trials
As a general rule, the more cases filed, the more bellwether trials will be needed. The outcome of the initial bellwether trial will also be a significant determining factor or how long the legal process will take.
If the early bellwether trial results indicate considerable success for the plaintiffs, the other party will be forced into a settlement with all other cases.
Can My Case Be Used as a Bellwether Trial?
When you file a case in mass tort litigation, you essentially sign up for a potential bellwether trial. Many people want to be the first ones to settle their case in a bellwether trial. However, this is statistically a challenge.
You could be selected for a bellwether trial. You can increase your odds.
To increase your chances of being selected for a bellwether trial, you must:
- Actively participate in your case
- Submit paperwork and plaintiff questionnaires promptly
- Promptly respond to any requests from your lawyer
Sample results from the bellwether trials indicate necessary information to the judge and the attorneys. This information helps shape future settlements and determines the results of all cases filed.
Reasons Why Bellwether Cases are Used
By consolidating similar cases, attorneys can practice or anticipate the results of any future litigation of similar cases in a bellwether trial. When hundreds of plaintiffs file claims against the same defendants, it is not always feasible to try every case individually.
Bellwether cases save the legal system time and resources. Test trials are not only crucial for saving legal resources, but they provide attorneys with an opportunity to strategize.
They can use these jury trials to test their procedure and assess how the judge and jury react to their proceedings. When negotiating future cases, the legal team can strategize to strengthen their case, leading to a larger global settlement.
Benefits of bellwether trials include:
- Cutting legal fees
- Settling more cases out of the courtroom
- Larger payouts for the plaintiffs
- Fewer fact discovery resources, like medical records, pictures, and documentation
Successful bellwether trials are essential when the federal courts need to settle any remaining cases. The national legal procedure allows them to use the results from the bellwether cases to determine any pending issues with a large verdict.
When bellwether trials are used, the results provide an expectation indicator for the many cases. Representative cases are essential in streamlining the legal process and settling the pending cases in the best way.
Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney to Resolve Your Personal Injury Claim
Are you the victim of product liability involving a defective medical device? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for injured victims harmed through another’s negligence.
Call us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
We accept all personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee agreement. This arrangement ensures you pay nothing until we have resolved your case through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.