The Life Cycle of a Mass Tort
Mass torts are a critical piece of the legal world where thousands of claimants pursue justice for the harm a single entity caused them. But despite how important these lawsuits are for attorneys, not all attorneys understand what goes into the lifecycle of these litigations.
Knowing the process of a mass tort will help you with both identifying a potential case in its earliest stages and how to plan around any unexpected developments that may occur. It’s vital to internalize this life cycle to become an expert in the field and achieve the best possible results.
Types of Mass Torts
Before anything, an attorney must understand the types of mass torts available and what category claims can fall under. There are three any litigator should know off the top of their head: Defective Products, Defective Medical Devices, and Dangerous Drugs Mass Torts.
These titles are all self-explanatory for the claims they represent. Defective Products cover plaintiffs who were injured by a defective product. The difference between Defective Products and Defective Medical Devices is the latter focuses specifically on medicinal products that injured plaintiffs. Dangerous Drugs cover medications that inflicted unknown or unspecified injuries from what was listed on the labeling.
Once a claimant looking for legal aid has been acquired, it’s time to review their records. This is a requirement to determine if these plaintiffs have a case or not. What these files encompass can range from allegations and injuries to years of medical records. This process helps identify outliers that can potentially hamper chances of winning or eliminate the plaintiff as a lead, such as a pre-existing condition.
After reviewing records, a timeline of injuries can be constructed and determine consistencies between clients or claims. The stronger the correlations, the stronger the claim and the stronger the argument.
Ultimately, what these consistencies are can vary from case to case. These details can come from age, severity, or duration and will change how the lawsuit plays out. The more claims or evidence, the more outliers can be corroborated and the stronger the direction the tort can take.
It should be noted these consistencies will also determine the damages rewarded in a favorable ruling depending on the category. Be careful only to include those who qualify according to your criteria.
Filing Your Lawsuit
It is time to file your lawsuit after gathering a number of claims and identifying consistencies among them. However, where you should file your lawsuit between a state or federal court is a question only you as a litigator can answer. There are mass torts processing in both systems with a majority filed with federal courts. Your decision ultimately rests on what you believe is the best fit for your client’s case.
Whatever system you choose, file all your cases with the same court, even if your clients are in different states. These cases are tried by experienced attorneys who understand mass tort case structure back-to-front and prefer this combination filing to streamline the process, increase the speed they can process them, and make their work more convenient overall.
Bellwether Trials & Multi-District Litigation
Bellwether Trials and Multi-District Litigation are facets of the mass tort process while serving separate purposes. Bellwether Trials can be seen as an experiment for the greater lawsuit: a small group of plaintiffs has their cases tried before a model jury to determine how they will react to the evidence and arguments. The results will give future plaintiffs and defendants an idea of how juries will react to this mass tort. These are usually the first trials to be held for a mass tort.
These trials serve the larger Multi-District Litigation, the legal process to manage long and complicated lawsuits involving multiple plaintiffs against one defendant. These are usually consolidated into one court from cases across the country. This efficiency lets multiple claims be tried simultaneously and expedites the entire process for hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs.
At the end of a mass tort claim are the settlements between the defendants and the plaintiffs. Defendants will likely propose a settlement amount to end their lawsuit out of court in order to avoid a costly decision by a court that is not in their favor.
However, there is yet to be a timeline set in stone to determine when this will happen. Mass torts can take years to yield these results. But the more claims against the defendant and the more substantial the presented evidence, the more likely a settlement becomes with a higher payout.
When to Enter a Mass Tort
Now that you know the steps, processes, and life cycle of mass torts, there’s just one more question to answer: when should you get into a mass tort?
There are three general points a law firm can enter a mass tort: early, middle, and late. Each has its own pros and cons to meet the needs of different law firms and one isn’t necessarily more valuable than the others. What ultimately separates them from each other are the two key factors of risk and reward.
Early: This is the stage of a mass tort when it is just beginning. There are victims and lawyers eager to represent their cases, but there’s no guarantee any trials will happen or that there is any correlation between injuries and products. The risk for getting in early is high, but the trade-off here is the cost per signed retainer is low.
Middle: Litigation is underway, and bellwether trials are soon to commence. There are plenty of claimants with evidence suggesting a relationship between injuries and products. This is essentially the point where risk and reward coincide.
Late: Bellwether trials have been completed and were favorable for the claimants. Victims who weren’t previously interested are prime to qualify and claim legal compensation. At this point, the risk of engaging with this mass tort will continually diminish as more claimants come forward and settlements begin. However, these victims become much more valuable with an almost guaranteed positive outcome, and the cost of obtaining retained claimants increases just as much.
Your decision on when to enter into a mass tort comes down to weighing the pros and cons of each stage and what you or your law firm are willing to risk for the most reward. You don’t need to break into mass torts at the same stage every time. Spread your eggs in different baskets, looking at what’s promising or waiting until another develops. Mass tort litigation should never be an everything-or-nothing prospect but another avenue for a law firm to diversify its practice and help more people.
What Broughton Partners Can Do For You
Finding claimants for mass torts can be a challenge. Advertising the tort, answering leads calls, screening them for eligibility, and signing them takes a lot of work, especially if you want it all done efficiently. That’s why Broughton Partners was created to address these concerns.
We exist to help law firms take on more clients by building better connections between claimants, litigators, and referral firms. Using a variety of consumer facing brands we market to potential claimants across television, radio, and social media. These claimants can reach out to our in-house 24/7 call center where they are screened for eligibility using criteria created with leading litigators. These pre-qualified retainers are delivered to partnered firms without any additional work on their part.
This process allows attorneys to help more people without adding to their workload and gives claimants more power to pursue the justice they deserve. If you want to know more, call us at (800) 949-8904 or complete our online contact form today.