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April 10, 2020 Update

In a recent order, the court set forth a procedure for the selection of what is often referred to as “bellwether cases.” In a case where there are thousands of individual cases pending in one court, judges will often use the bellwether trials as a way to achieve a global settlement. The “bellwether trials” or “bellwether cases” are the cases that are selected to go to trial first. The idea is that if you obtain jury verdicts in 5-10 “typical” cases, reasonable parties should be able agree on a global settlement program that can be used to resolve or settle the remaining cases. Presently, the first bellwether case is scheduled to be tried in January 2021. Here, the process used by the court to select the bellwether cases is unique. First, 150 plaintiffs will be randomly selected to be included in the bellwether pool. After this is completed, each side (the defendant and plaintiffs) will select an additional 25 cases to be part of the pool. Second, after the 200 cases are chosen, each plaintiff will fill out what is a called a Plaintiff Fact Sheet, or “PFS”. A PFS is essentially a long questionnaire where each plaintiff is required to provide detailed information about their treatment, background, and injuries. After the fact sheets are submitted, the parties and the court will then narrow down the pool to a much smaller group of cases. At that point, the parties will then begin the process of deposing witnesses and doctors and getting the cases ready for trial.

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