A mass tort is a type of litigation that consists of a large number of individual plaintiffs that allege injuries related to a single incident (for example, a plane crash) or a specific type of allegedly defective or dangerous product (for example, alleged harms caused by a pharmaceutical product). Mass torts are similar to class actions in that these types of cases encompass large numbers of potential plaintiffs. However, due to critical differences between the individual plaintiffs and the types of damages that they allegedly received, these types of cases cannot be handled as a class action; they must be resolved individually. The plaintiffs' trial bar tries to generate as many claims as possible in a mass tort to pressure defendant companies to try to settle, whether or not the defendant is actually responsible.
Multidistrict litigation proceedings (MDLs) were created as an efficient way to handle pretrial proceedings in hundreds or thousands of similar cases against the same defendant. Unfortunately, MDLs also give plaintiffs an unfair advantage when it comes to appeals. If a defendant makes a dispositive motion-on preemption or expert evidence, for example-and is denied, it won't normally have access to immediate appeal. But if the defendant wins the motion, plaintiffs can appeal right away. This paper argues for courts to give MDL plaintiffs and defendants equal access to appellate review. Read More
The asbestos bankruptcy trusts, created with the goal of sustainably processing and paying valid asbestos personal injury claims, are quickly being depleted. ILR's research finds that of the 35 asbestos trusts operating as of early 2008, 21 are paying an average of 40 percent less today than in 2008, putting future compensation for asbestos victims in doubt. The paper documents the causes of this rapid depletion, including the highly significant impact of attorney contingency fees. Read More