Mass torts come in many different varieties and are defined by their volume and risk, not by a particular product or substance. The sheer volume of mass tort claims, regardless of their merits, presents significant risk to companies — risk that can even threaten a company’s very viability. For that reason, mass torts must be resolved in one fashion or another. Sometimes “resolution” means a jury verdict, sometimes it means a court ruling dismissing the case, and sometimes it means a settlement.
Bringing mass torts to a resolution is what we do at Schiff Hardin.
Our Product Liability and Mass Torts group has decades of experience in state and federal courts across the country helping companies defend, resolve and survive the onslaught of mass tort litigation. That requires designing, implementing and executing an overall defense strategy that is consistent with the client’s goals, business plan and risk tolerance. It also requires responsiveness and adaptability.
Some of the greatest successes Schiff Hardin lawyers have had for our clients have been to stop a tort from becoming a mass tort. From challenging aggregation of claims, debunking junk science and rogue medical claims, to winning bellwether cases, Schiff Hardin lawyers have defended the threshold and stopped potential mass torts in their tracks.
Some of the world’s largest chemical companies depend on us to create viable trial and settlement options in serial mass tort litigation across the country. Our team has been responsible for the creation of standards for causation in toxic exposure cases, the application of statutes of limitation in latent disease cases, and admissibility standards for scientific and medical evidence. Our group has deep experience in fighting the assertion of jurisdiction over foreign parent companies of domestic entities that are in the direct stream of commerce.
The longest running mass tort in the history of the United States — what the United States Supreme Court referred to as an “elephantine mass” — is asbestos litigation. We are national leaders in representing companies facing the specter of asbestos litigation, and have been for more than 30 years. Schiff Hardin lawyers have been at the front lines of the litigation from its inception. We have been at the forefront in creating deferred dockets and case management orders, and we have argued appeals that have resulted in controlling appellate law that changed the face of the litigation.
Schiff Hardin played a lead role in another of the most historic mass tort cases ever litigated in the United States — the Sept. 11 World Trade Center site litigation. Our group was retained by the public authority that owned the WTC site to defend it in over 10,000 cases filed by first responders. The claimed injuries spanned the medical spectrum, from rare blood cancers to an assortment of often disabling lung diseases. We worked with the plaintiffs’ lawyers to craft a resolution of the litigation, and negotiated a novel settlement agreement the protected the client from both known and unknown claims and that guaranteed that future claims with no merit, or that were potentially fraudulent, would be eliminated from the litigation.