What Happens if my Case isn’t Chosen for Trial?
Posted on Monday, November 30th, 2020
Multi-district litigations (MDLs), such as lawsuits against Bayer-Monsanto or Johnson & Johnson talc cases, can be a bit confusing for those who aren’t familiar with legal lingo and processes.
We’ve talked quite a bit about bellwether trials, including the fact that, of the often tens of thousands of cases involved in these large-scale litigations, the court ultimately chooses a very small percentage of trials to be heard in court. This is important for a number of reasons.
Because of the vast number of cases typically involved in this type of litigation, it would otherwise take hundreds of years for all of the cases to come before juries. Bellwether trials help litigations come to a conclusion, often through settlements.
Bellwether trials are chosen because each plaintiff represents a group of plaintiffs with the same types of injuries or other similarities. These trials help the court, as well as both sides, to determine how juries will respond to the evidence provided.
Each bellwether case victory strengthens the claims of other plaintiffs, and vice-versa. If juries grant the initial plaintiffs large sums of compensation, it becomes clear that the corporations being sued will lose considerable amounts of profits if they continue to take their MDL cases to trial. This generally compels them to settle all or a portion of the lawsuits filed against them.
If that happens, all of the other plaintiffs (including you, if your complaint is not chosen for a bellwether trial) will be offered settlement amounts negotiated by your attorney. It will ultimately be up to you whether or not you agree to a settlement. Your attorney can talk to you about alternatives when that time comes.
If your case is not chosen for a bellwether trial, that doesn’t mean you’re left out.
The goal of these types of litigations is for the corporations involved to offer a settlement involving enough money to adequately compensate victims for the harm that has been done to them.
While these trials are going on, our attorneys are at the negotiating table with the defendants’ representatives pushing them to settle for just compensation for the remaining cases. Unless yours is one of the very small percentage of cases that is chosen for trial, your case is among those being negotiated.
At times, groups of plaintiffs (as opposed to all of the plaintiffs at once) are presented with offers negotiated based on specific factors. If this happens, the court assigns a qualified person to serve as what is called a special master. The special master will allocate the settlement and determine the amount of funds each plaintiff will receive.
In any case, we will keep you informed of any developments in your case as litigations progress in court.
What if I don’t like my settlement offer?
If your attorney feels the defendant(s) have come to the table with a legitimate settlement offer, you will be notified.
OnderLaw attorneys have a solid reputation for not settling for low-ball offers. We fight for our clients, and defendants know it.
An offer won’t be accepted in your case unless you sign off on the agreement. Your attorney will advise you of the details of settlement offers that have been negotiated and discuss any concerns you may have.
In any case, you can be sure that any offer that our OnderLaw team feels is strong enough to return to you is likely going to be strong in lieu of the circumstances of the litigation, including the outcomes of previous trials, the strength of the evidence, and many other factors.
Why does it matter which attorney I choose?
When it comes to settlement negotiations, not all attorneys are equal. Though we can’t speak for other attorneys, we can share our own experiences.
Before any settlement offer is accepted, a certain percentage of plaintiffs’ attorneys must agree upon the amount of compensation offered by the defendant(s). Therefore, attorneys who represent the largest numbers of plaintiffs have more negotiating power than attorneys representing fewer numbers of plaintiffs.
OnderLaw is proud to represent the largest percentage of plaintiffs in some of the country’s biggest mass tort litigations, including Johnson & Johnson talc-related and Roundup-related cancer lawsuits. That means we have greater bargaining power than other law firms, and we take that responsibility seriously.
Several times, offers have been proposed by defendant corporations that we feel have not been in good faith because they do not provide adequate compensation for plaintiffs who have suffered injury or death due to their greed. While other attorneys have been willing to concede, we have held out for the benefit of our clients. We will continue to do so until a fair offer is received.
Will I get as much money as the cases taken to court?
The short answer is no.
You should not expect to be compensated the hundreds of millions of dollars awarded to some plaintiffs in court. In fact, even those plaintiffs don’t receive the initial amounts they are awarded. Almost always, those verdicts are appealed, drawing out the process months or years longer, and the amounts they are awarded is decreased to what the court feels is a more reasonable compensation.
On top of decreased compensation in appeals, these cases can cost more than a million dollars to prepare for court. From finding and vetting expert witnesses to preparing mountains of evidence and counter-arguments, taking a bellwether case to trial is a monumental undertaking. As with all cases of injury or wrongful death, those expenses are deducted from the plaintiff’s final award.
Though cases that don’t go to trial certainly accrue expenses, they don’t come close to the expenses of those that do go before a judge and jury.
Bellwether cases are the riskiest cases. When plaintiffs win, they win big. But when they lose, they lose any chance they had at any amount of compensation. The stakes are high, and so are the potential losses.
Should I give up on my case if it isn’t chosen for trial?
Do not give up if your claim is not chosen for a bellwether trial. The process is long and can be frustrating for all of us, but OnderLaw will not stop fighting for you.
Every day, we are working hard behind the scenes to bring justice to our clients. Even if your case doesn’t go to trial, we’re still making sure your interests are represented and that you are compensated for the suffering you’ve endured.
As we’ve said many times before, this is a marathon, not a race. Stay the course. We are in this together, and we’re making a difference one case at a time.