The word bellwether can be traced back to the 13th century when shepherds hung bells around the necks of some of their sheep to designate them as leaders. Similarly, bellwether trials are designed to track and monitor the potential results of a large group of lawsuits. They are test lawsuits that use individual claims originating from a group of widely contested lawsuits filed against the same party. When hundreds or even thousands of lawsuits are filed against one party, these trials allow a few select cases to go to court to predict how the remaining pending claims will turn out at trial.
What Is Multidistrict Litigation?
In recent years, the number of medical injuries and pharmaceutical claims that have developed into multidistrict litigations has significantly increased. Multidistrict litigation, also known as MDL, is a special judicial proceeding designed to help federal courts better manage a large group of related lawsuits filed in various jurisdictions by different plaintiffs with similar legal issues and the same defendant. These proceedings are contingent on getting a majority approval from 7 district court judges, known as the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. Upon approval, the cases are temporarily transferred and consolidated at one or more district courts for pretrial coordination.