One of the things most clients observe during their free case review is that the mass tort cases they are about to join seem to have been around for years. And, as the mass tort lawyers at Rueb Stoller Daniel know, this is true.
While an individual personal injury lawsuit can reach a court decision within several months, things are completely different in legal actions involving hundreds or even thousands of plaintiffs. Let us explain why mass tort cases last so long by presenting their stages in detail.
To learn if you could qualify for a mass tort lawsuit, contact Rueb Stoller Daniel today for a free consultation.
Stage 1: Reviewing the Plaintiffs’ Records
When a person claims a defective or dangerous product made them ill, the defense attorneys representing the producer will start looking for evidence to disprove it. This takes time because your entire medical history will be subject to scrutiny.
The defendant’s legal counsels want to find any instance of previous illness or injury that occurred before you used the defective product. And your mass tort lawyer cannot prevent them from performing this review.
Now, imagine this process of analyzing medical records taking place for every plaintiff in the case. Thus, this phase of the case alone can take months for your case alone.
On a side note, make sure you tell your lawyer about any previous accident or illness you suffered, even if it is unrelated to your case. Your attorney will have to create arguments to contradict the defendant’s claim that you had a pre-existing condition and that their product did not cause your injuries or illness.
Stage 2: Determining the Cases Are Similar
A mass tort case involves a group of people who suffered similar injuries after using the same product. Thus, lawyers representing various individual clients must research and communicate with each other to determine that their clients’ situations are similar.
Unlike in class actions, each plaintiff in mass tort cases has an individual claim but their attorneys must build a common case against the defendant. This means:
- Exchanging findings on their client’s injuries
- Discussing legal concepts
- Finding common points for proving the defendant’s fault
- Agreeing on arguments to be presented before the mass tort lawyer.
All the lawsuits should have a similar structure because only a handful will be tried before the court to assess the strength of the case and the potential settlement to be reached with the defendant.
Stage 3: Filing Lawsuits
After the uniformity of cases is determined, the mass tort lawyers will consolidate their clients’ actions into multi-district litigation. This is done to reduce the caseload in civil courts and speed up the resolution of mass tort cases.
Stage 4: The Bellwether Trials
Before each case is tried, the courts will select a sample of cases to try to determine if the mass tort case has merits. The choice will be left to the judge, relying on guidelines set by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.
In general, the most serious cases are tried as bellwether lawsuits. They often involve plaintiffs who have already passed away or face imminent death. Also, these cases must meet all the conditions of uniformity, so that the court decisions may be relevant for the other pending lawsuits.
Stage 5: Reaching a Settlement or Resolution
The final stage in a mass tort case involves reaching a settlement with the defendant or waiting for a resolution in court. In some cases, for example in the Roundup mass tort case, the defendant proposes a settlement for all future cases, but it is blocked by the judge.
However, if the settlement is fair, this is the preferred method for resolving these cases, as it reduces the pressure on the justice system and ensures that the plaintiffs get their compensation in a shorter time.
Find Out if You Qualify to Join a Mass Tort Case!
If you believe that you may join an active case, contact a skilled mass tort lawyer at Rueb Stoller Daniel. We will analyze the facts of your case and determine if it meets the conditions of uniformity so that you can join a mass tort action.