A Primer on MDLs - FAQs
Basic MDL Statistics
Lead Lawyers & Repeat Players
Mass Tort Settlement Provisions
Mass Tort Deals marshals a wide array of empirical data on multidistrict litigation to suggest that the systemic lack of checks and balances for these cases may benefit everyone but the plaintiffs.
Analyzing mass-tort cases consolidated over 22 years and settled over 14, including the deals insiders negotiate, the “common-benefit” attorneys’ fees that the lead plaintiffs’ attorneys receive to run the litigation, and the judicial rulings, reveals a troubling pattern: repeat plaintiff and defense attorneys persistently benefit from the current system.
Defense lawyers are able to end sprawling lawsuits on their corporate client’s behalf while lead plaintiffs’ lawyers broker deals that reward them handsomely and sometimes pay litigants very little.
By identifying settlement provisions that one might argue principally benefit the repeat players, Mass Tort Deals examines the publicly available nonclass settlements these elite lawyers designed. All of those settlements can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.
Every settlement features at least one closure provision for corporate defendants (all listed and described below), and nearly all contain some provision that increases lead plaintiffs’ lawyers’ common-benefit fees.
Bargaining for attorneys’ fees with one’s opponent is a stark departure from traditional contingent-fee principles, which are designed to tie lawyers’ fees to their clients’ outcome. Based on the evidence available, there is reason to be concerned that when repeat players influence the practices and norms that govern multidistrict proceedings and settlement programs—when they “play for rules,” so to speak—the rules they develop may principally benefit them at plaintiffs' expense.
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