How Long Does a Mass Tort Claim Usually Last?

There is really no way to tell how long it will take to litigate a mass tort lawsuit. While some claims may reach resolution in a couple of years, others can take far longer. Mass tort claims that settle will generally conclude much faster than those that go to trial.

Factors in a Mass Tort Litigation

While there is really no set timeline for resolving mass tort cases, there are a number of factors that will influence the length of the litigation:

  • Expert witnesses: Witnesses who have the scientific and medical knowledge to support a case must be located and deposed. It’s not unusual for mass tort to require multiple expert witness depositions. These individuals may include: Pharmaceutical company researchers and marketers, scientists, doctors, and more.
  • Need for travel: Mass tort attorneys and their investigators may be required to travel in order to interview and depose witnesses and gather other evidence.
  • Evidence collection and organization: This is one of the most time consuming aspects of mass torts. It can take months to collect, analyze and organize the medical records, company documentation and other evidence needed to pursue a claim.

Milestones in a Mass Tort Proceeding

While every case is different, there are a number of milestones that mark the progress of most mass tort claims:

  • Initial filings: The filing of the first complaints and other necessary documents
  • Motion or petition for consolidation. Depending on the jurisdiction, plaintiffs or defendants may motion or file a petition for consolidation of individual lawsuits in a mass tort proceeding. On the federal level, such petitions are filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigations.
  • Status Conferences/Case Management Conferences: Most mass tort proceedings start off with an Initial Status Conference or Case Management Conference. This is usually followed by periodic conferences, often monthly, at which time the parties will update the Court on the progress of the litigation.
  • Motions
  • Discovery: Plaintiff and the defendant are required to share facts and documents that are pertinent to the case
  • Bellwether trials: Many mass torts establish a bellwether trial program in which a small number of lawsuits are heard by juries. While the outcomes of bellwether trials are not binding on the remaining cases, these verdicts can provide insight into how other juries might decide similar lawsuits.
  • Settlement negotiations
  • Appeals

Can I Do Anything to Help My Case Move Forward Efficiently

There are a number of steps plaintiffs can take to ensue that their mass tort lawsuit moves forward efficiently:

  • Be aware of the SOL: The SOL, or statute of limitations, governs how long a plaintiff has to file their lawsuit. These deadlines vary by state. Your attorney will be able to determine whether or not you are nearing the SOL for your case.
  • Disclose information to your attorney in a timely manner: You should provide all necessary information at the outset of your case. You should also communicate with your attorney regularly in order to disclose any new information that might impact your lawsuit.

More Information on Mass Tort Lawsuits

Bernstein Liebhard LLP represents mass tort plaintiffs in litigations throughout the country. To learn more, please contact our office at (888) 994-5118.

Last Modified: June 2, 2016

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