The Discovery Process in a Mass Tort Lawsuit

If you watch courtroom drama shows, there is always the moment when a surprise witness or piece of evidence is produced to overturn the entire situation. As an experienced mass tort lawyer will tell you, this is absolutely not what happens in real life during a mass tort lawsuit. During the discovery process – an essential phase in any kind of trial – the judge obliges both parties (defendant and plaintiff) to exchange all relevant information they have.

Moreover, the judge will decide which evidence can be produced in court, and which is inadmissible. So, let us explain how this discovery process works and why you cannot expect a last minute revelation that would hurt your chances to get compensation.

The Four Methods Used for Discovery in a Trial

Attorneys representing both sides rely on the following methods to obtain the evidence needed to support their side of the events before the judge and jury:

1. Depositions

During the deposition, the legal representatives of one party will interview witnesses for the opposing party. These interviews are given under oath, so the witnesses must be instructed to be 100% honest and truthful; otherwise they may be accused of perjury.

2. Interrogatories

An interrogatory is a set of questions sent by one party to the other. For example, in the Paraquat mass tort lawsuit the defendant’s lawyer will send to the plaintiffs questions such as:

  • How long did you use Paraquat?
  • Were you diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease?
  • Did you get a second opinion on your health condition?
  • Why did you file your lawsuit after (x) months after being diagnosed?

The answers to these questions will not be given under oath. However, if you are asked the same thing in court and you give a different answer, the other party’s legal counsel will immediately point this out to the judge.

both parties must have access to all evidence before the trial starts

3. Subpoena

The subpoena is an official request for any kind of evidence that may support your case, such as:

  • Documents
  • Medical records
  • Audio/video files
  • Accounting books
  • Other physical and digital evidence

Refusing to supply evidence requested by subpoena is a legal offense, punishable at the judge’s discretion.

4. Request for Admission

Each party must present all their available evidence to the judge and request its admission. In some cases, both the mass tort lawyers and the defendants’ attorney will have to authenticate the physical or digital evidence as part of the admission process.

The Role of the Steering Committees in the Discovery Process

A mass tort lawsuit often involves thousands, or even tens of thousands of plaintiffs. Even if the cases are grouped in different courts based on the geographical area, we are still talking about hundreds of cases.

The judge appointed by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will appoint a Steering Committee for each party: the plaintiffs and the defendants. These committees have the role of coordinating and streamlining the discovery process.

For example, they will group answers from interrogatories in a way that is easy to read and understand and create a schedule for the witnesses’ depositions. The mass tort attorneys representing each plaintiff also play a key role in liaising with the committee and submitting all subpoenaed documents and evidence promptly.

Let an Experienced Mass Tort Lawyer Handle Your Case!

The discovery process in a mass tort lawsuit is extremely important, because any evidence that is not included and approved by the judge may not be presented in court. For this reason, it is crucial to hire a seasoned mass tort lawyer to represent you.

The team at Rueb Stoller Daniel is currently involved in some of the biggest mass tort actions, such as Camp Lejeune, Roundup and Fisher-Price baby sleeper. We know how to look for evidence and make sure that it is admissible in court.

Contact us if you believe you have a case to schedule a free consultation at 1-866-CALL-RSD!