Bellwether trials are common in dangerous drug and defective medical device lawsuits. A “bellwether” is something that provides a good indicator of a future event. In mass tort cases, there is often a bellwether trial on a small number of cases to use as a predictor as to how juries might determine the outcome of other cases. A large jury verdict in one case can be an indicator as to how other juries will decide similar cases in the future.
Courts use a bellwether approach if large numbers of plaintiffs are suing for the same dangerous drug or defective product. It is often the most feasible way for a court to process a huge caseload. The courts have developed a system for using this technique in major litigation cases.
To learn more, contact our Bellwether trial lawyers to discuss your rights and options.
How Bellwether Trials Work
A group of plaintiffs are chosen to represent all the plaintiffs. In other cases, the defendants handpick the cases they want to take to trial. The issues for trial are usually common claims or theories among all the plaintiffs. These representative cases go for trial and the results act as the bellwether for the other plaintiffs’ trials.
The outcome of these cases often predicts whether the other cases will result in settlements. A large jury award can influence the amount of the compensation paid to the other claimants. A verdict for the defendant may affect the company’s willingness to settle cases in the future. A “compromise verdict” can push the parties to engage in further settlement discussions now that the issues addressed by the jury are known to the trial attorneys. Discussions with jurors after a bellwether trial may also serve to change the trial strategies in future cases set for trial.