A bellwether case is typically selected, by agreement of both plaintiff and defendant, to go to trial before any similar cases, because the facts in the bellwether are believed to represent the mass tort litigation as a whole. And a verdict in a bellwether trial can serve as a predictor of the outcomes in dozens or hundreds of similar cases.
"Cases that will have the maximum value to corporate defendants are ones that involve the lead plaintiff's counsel, a typical fact pattern and plaintiff claims, and the lead expert witnesses," Bowman and Brooke Firm Chair Paul Cereghini told Inside Counsel magazine in February 2012.
This was the situation for a recreational vehicle manufacturing client in 2010. Led by Cereghini, the Bowman and Brooke trial team developed the overall defense of the vehicle, directly defended the largest number of these matters, and served as a lead counsel in the California JCCP and the MDL. Cereghini was also lead trial counsel and tried the bellwether case, Holt v. Yamaha, as well as another high profile matter, Sand v. Yamaha, both to defense verdicts. Beyond this, Bowman and Brooke tried three more of the 10 matters, also defense verdicts, which led to the substantial resolution of this nationwide litigation.
The defense verdicts in Holt and Sand sent a very powerful message to the plaintiff's bar in this litigation. As a result, hundreds of cases were resolved, and hundreds of cases since then have simply been dismissed or abandoned.
"You don't send strong messages by trying pushover cases," Cereghini said to The Wall St. Journal in April 2011.
CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE.