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What is a Bellwether Trial?

What is a Bellwether Trial?

Have you suffered a serious injury from something like a defective product? If so, you’re probably not alone. In fact, thousands of people may have suffered similar consequences from something like a dangerous drug, defective automobile, and much more. When this is the case, you may be considering filing a defective product lawsuit, but the sheer volume of the number of these lawsuits can be immensely difficult for the civil court system to handle.

When an abundance of similar lawsuits against a common defendant or group of defendants exist, your case may be affected by what are known as “bellwether trials.” To put it simple, all bellwether trial is a “representative sample” from which the findings will be used in all of the other trials in the larger group. These are particularly common in “multidistrict litigations” or MDLs, which are cases with similar facts and circumstances that are scheduled to be trialed in different court districts around the country. Bellwether trials are a way that these massive suits by establishing some common facts and findings that will be utilized across all of these trials in the various districts across the country.

By utilizing bellwether trials, certain facts and evidence will be established, expert witness testimony will be entered, and a number of key components regarding all of these cases will be discussed and litigated. The findings from these cases are then sent to these individual districts in order to speed up the process and get a faster resolution for each of them.

What Bellwether Trials Don’t Do

It’s important to note that bellwether trials don’t do a number of things. First, they don’t guarantee that you will win your injury case. The only thing they do is establish evidence and arguments as well as how they are decided in court. You’ll still have to demonstrate that you have a valid case. Likewise, if you wish to utilize the findings of these bellwether trials, you’ll have to show how your case is similar and how you’ve had many of the same “questions of facts” that were litigated during the bellwether trials.

Second, bellwether trials are not tried to conclusion. They are merely litigated to the point where arguments from both sides have been entered and litigated in court. Bellwether judges do not adjudicate on these cases. In order for bellwether cases to receive a verdict, they must go back to their district courts. Thus, the outcome of these cases doesn’t necessarily indicate the outcome of your case in any way, although it could provide you with some important indications about what you can expect.

Finally, bellwether trials are meant to represent a broad range of the cases involved in the multi-district litigation, but it’s impossible for one to completely cover all of the unique and intricate details of your own injury claim. While the findings in bellwether trials may play a crucial role in your case and provide a proven, established framework that you and your attorney can build your arguments on, there will still be smaller details that you’ll need to argue and support with evidence. This is why it’s so important to have representation and legal counsel throughout the process.

If you’ve been injured by a defective product and your case will be impacted by bellwether trials, contact our Waterbury personal injury attorneys at Fitzpatrick Mariano Santos Sousa, P.C. today!

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