7 Challenges Lawyers Face in Mass Tort Litigation

To shed light on the challenges lawyers face in mass tort litigation, we’ve gathered seven insightful responses from professionals, including a Disability Lawyer and a Vice-President. From managing case complexity and volume to competing against well-funded defendants, these experts share their experiences and advice on navigating this complex legal landscape.

  • Managing Case Complexity and Volume
  • Handling Protracted and Complicated Cases
  • Coordinating Numerous Plaintiffs
  • Ensuring Attention to Each Case
  • Balancing Emotional Toll and Advocacy
  • Navigating Statute of Limitations Issues
  • Competing Against Well-Funded Defendants

1. Managing Case Complexity and Volume

One obstacle lawyers face in mass-tort litigation is managing the sheer complexity and volume of cases. Unlike class actions, where plaintiffs are treated as one entity, each plaintiff in a mass tort retains individuality.

This means managing unique evidence, medical records, and testimony for each claimant. The logistical, financial, and temporal demands can be overwhelming, requiring meticulous organization and often collaboration among multiple law firms to pool resources and expertise.

Richard Frankel, Disability Lawyer, Bross & Frankel, PA

2. Handling Protracted and Complicated Cases

A significant challenge lawyers often encounter when pursuing mass-tort litigation is the complicated and protracted nature of these cases, which can strain their resources and patience. Depending on some law offices’ size, experience, and available resources, this can be extremely challenging.

Unlike individual lawsuits, mass torts involve a multitude of plaintiffs with varying degrees of harm and unique circumstances, making it challenging to streamline the litigation process. Coordinating with numerous clients, gathering extensive evidence, and navigating the intricacies of multiple defendants can lead to logistical nightmares and prolonged legal battles.

This complexity not only tests the lawyers’ organizational skills but also requires them to devise innovative strategies to manage the sheer volume of cases efficiently.

James W. McConkie, Owner, Parker & McConkie

3. Coordinating Numerous Plaintiffs

Coordinating numerous plaintiffs in a mass tort lawsuit can be a formidable challenge for lawyers. Mass tort cases may involve hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs who have experienced similar injuries due to a common cause.

Managing these large groups of clients can take time logistically. Attorneys must ensure that each plaintiff’s specific circumstances are taken into account, that they are brought up to date on the status of the case, and that their individual rights are preserved within the larger litigation framework.

Tim Allen, Director, Oberheiden P.C.

4. Ensuring Attention to Each Case

Navigating the sheer volume of cases is a significant challenge in mass tort litigation. Lawyers must efficiently handle extensive documentation, diverse plaintiffs, and complex legal nuances, demanding extensive organization and coordination.

Ensuring each case receives due attention while managing the collective legal strategy can be daunting, requiring streamlined processes and effective communication to secure fair outcomes for all plaintiffs involved.

Aaron Cohen, Managing Director, Michael Edwards Solicitors

5. Balancing Emotional Toll and Advocacy

One major hurdle lawyers often face when pursuing mass-tort litigation is the emotional toll it takes on them. Beyond the legal complexities, lawyers must empathize with the real-life suffering of their clients, many of whom have experienced devastating injuries or losses.

This emotional burden can be overwhelming, as they become not just legal advocates but also sources of support for those they represent.

Lawyers find themselves navigating a delicate balance between professional detachment and genuine empathy, as they work tirelessly to secure justice and compensation for their clients while grappling with the human stories and pain behind each case.

Aaron Winston, Strategy Director, Express Legal Funding

6. Navigating Statute of Limitations Issues

A consideration in mass tort litigation is dealing with statute of limitations issues. Mass tort claims frequently involve injuries or illnesses that do not emerge for years after being exposed to a hazardous substance or product.

As a result, some plaintiffs may miss the deadline for filing a claim because the statute of limitations has expired.

Lawyers must carefully examine and handle these time limits, potentially appealing for exceptions or extensions based on the case’s unique circumstances. Overcoming statute of limitations hurdles can be critical to the success of mass tort lawsuits.

Bruce Mohr, Vice-President, Fair Credit

7. Competing Against Well-Funded Defendants

Mass tort cases frequently pit plaintiffs against large corporations or entities with significant financial and legal resources. These wealthy defendants can engage top-notch legal teams and employ various strategies to delay proceedings or lower settlement amounts.

Lawyers who pursue mass tort action must be prepared for lengthy legal fights and the necessity to secure significant financial resources in order to compete effectively against well-funded defendants.

Cindi Keller, Communications Coordinator, The Criminal Defense Firm

Expert Tips: Proven Strategies for Lawyers in Mass Tort Litigation

Have a System for Organizing Evidence

  • Richard Frankel: Utilize case management software or a dedicated team to track each plaintiff’s unique evidence, medical records, and testimonies. This saves time and enhances efficiency.

Collaborate Across Firms

  • James W. McConkie: If your law firm lacks the resources for handling the bulk of mass tort cases, don’t hesitate to collaborate with other firms. Pooling resources and expertise can make the process more manageable.

Client Communication is Key

  • Tim Allen: Regular updates to plaintiffs can prevent misunderstandings and assure clients that their circumstances are being accounted for.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

  • Aaron Winston: Balance your emotional well-being by seeking peer support or counseling. Dealing with the emotional toll is as important as handling the cases.

Know the Statutes Inside and Out

  • Bruce Mohr: Ensure you are well-versed in the statutes of limitations relevant to your cases. Being prepared can help when you need to file appeals for exceptions or extensions.

Secure Financial Backing Early On

  • Cindi Keller: Be proactive in securing financial resources, either through law firm alliances or third-party funding, to level the playing field against well-funded defendants.