A successful trial lawyer recently published an article arguing the mass-tort system is badly in need of reform. It’s a good article. He’s right. The system absolutely needs reform.
What is the mass tort system? If you are not a lawyer, you may be asking this question. Look at this way. If you suffer an Alabama car accident injury, you may have a claim against the negligent driver. If you suffer an Alabama workplace injury, you may have a claim against your employer for workers’ compensation benefits. You file your individual claim against a specific defendant in Alabama and the court decides the issues. If you suffer an injury from a bad drug or defective medical device, the concept is similar but on a different scale. You make an individual claim against the company which made the defective product. It’s you versus the drug company. We have filed many of these defective drug and device cases in Federal Court.
The difference is the number of other claims. With a bad drug or defective medical device, hundreds or thousands of people across the United States may have suffered a personal injury. Your injuries and damages are unique. No two people suffer exactly the same. But, all the cases do have a lot of similar issues related to the product. The idea is that it is more efficient for a single judge to handle pre-trial issues where all the injured parties are trying to learn this information. So, Federal Courts will assign a single judge to oversee pre-trial motions and discovery. After the claims are fully investigated and prepared, they are sent back to the local judge for your individual trial. You end where you started — You versus the drug company.