A Primer on Bellwether Trials
10 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 3, 2017
This essay describes the uses of bellwether trials in multidistrict litigation [MDL] cases and the issues this practice raises. The discussion is aimed particularly at judges who have used or are considering using this procedure. It will first define bellwether trials, then discuss (i) selection procedures and the problems with current practices, (ii) conducting the trials, and (iii) venue considerations. Overall, the current practice of bellwether trials, in which very few or no trials are conducted and those cases that are tried receive outsize attention should be avoided. Instead, judges should focus on structuring equitable procedures for trying cases using social science methodology.
Keywords: MDL, Mass Torts, Bellwether Trials, Jury Right
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