Cincinnati Attorney Joe Lyon Explains the Process for Mass Tort Litigation
Mass tort litigation is a complex area of law. If you think your personal injury case may fall in this category, it is vital that you call an attorney to learn more about the specific circumstances in your case.
Transcript: Mass Tort Litigation
“A lot of people confuse the term class action with the term mass tort. The cases that involve injuries from pharmaceutical products are properly classified as mass tort. There are some similarities with class actions, but they are not class actions in the traditional sense. From my perspective, this is a very good thing. We are able to consolidate our cases for the purposes of discovery, which allows us to work in conjunction with firms around the country who are dealing with the same or similar issues. This creates efficiencies within the system that allow individuals to move forward against some of the most powerful companies in the world. Without the ability to consolidate, we would be expending tremendous amounts of resources on one individual case, and the economics of that system may not justify moving forward.
“But, from a practical sense, we often get asked the question, ‘What can I expect from my case as we move forward with the consolidation process with cases from around the country?’ The most common format for consolidation is through what’s called multi-district litigation, or an MDL. When your case is accepted by my firm and we move forward through the MDL process, the first thing we will ask you to do is to complete what’s called a plaintiff fact sheet. A plaintiff fact sheet is a very concise form of discovery that’s going to ask such as, ‘When did you first take the medication?’ ‘How long did you take the medication?’ ‘When did you first have the side effect being claimed in the litigation?’ ‘What doctors prescribed the medication?’ and ‘What doctors treated you for the respective injuries?’
“Typically the plaintiff fact sheet doesn’t go into a lot more detail than that because the parties are trying to gather and compile information that is the same or similar across the broad spectrum of all the plaintiffs in the case. When you have thousands of cases pending it’s important to simply try to categorize the cases in order to understand where the similarities or dissimilarities may lie.
“Once the plaintiff fact sheet has been submitted there’s also medical authorizations that will need to be completed for the defendants. My firm will, at that point, have gathered most of the critical medical records in order to substantiate the case, but the defendants will also have the opportunity to review and gather that evidence themselves.
“Once that information has been exchanged, the process moves forward into what’s called a bellwether selection process. The bellwether process allows the courts and the lawyers to select particular cases from the broader pool of litigation for the purposes of understanding what the value may be of the case where the strengths and the weaknesses of both the defendants and the plaintiffs cases may lie. It’s done in an effort to try to hopefully come up with some sort of value of what the global resolution may look like, and hopefully to come to some finality in the case.
“When cases are consolidated it’s important to understand certain aspects of the litigation. While your case may not be presented directly before the judge, certain questions of science that are ruled upon may impact your case. The process is known as a Daubert hearing or Daubert process, but this scientific hearing and scientific inquiry, typically on whether the particular drug can cause a particular disease, the answer to that question will typically dictate whether the individual case will move forward, or whether the litigation as a whole may be dismissed.
“Once the primary questions of science are answered through the court, which apply globally to the litigation, the next step is to select certain cases for trial. Those cases are designed to be representative of the broad pool of cases in the litigation so that the attorneys for both sides, and the court, can have a better sense of what is representative of this mass tort as a whole.
“To go back to the original question, you know, ‘Is my case a class action or a mass tort?’ There are a lot of similarities between the two, due to the immense volume of cases surrounding the litigation. In the common, we refer to these as common questions of law that overlap between many of the cases in the litigation.
“That being said, your case is ultimately, your case. The injuries that you suffered are unique to you. How these injuries have impacted you life and your family are unique to you, the amount of money that has been lost through lost wages or through your medical expenses; those are questions that are unique to you and will be worked up individually. If the settlement process is unsuccessful, my firm is in a position to push the case forward and to ultimately pursue your day in court as an individual, and not part of a class action.”
Legal Representation in Mass Tort Litigation
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury and have questions about the root cause and the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer the critical questions surrounding your mass tort litigation.