A bellwether trial is a case that the court and the parties select to test their arguments, with the goal of moving the overall litigation towards resolution.
Bellwether trials are used in mass tort actions, which occur when thousands of persons are injured by the same defective medical device, prescription medication with dangerous and undisclosed side effects, or faulty products such as cars with safety flaws.
Bellwether cases generally have facts that are typical and representative of other cases in the wider litigation, and the outcome of a bellwether trial often informs the parties on whether they will continue to litigate or settle their claims, and on what terms.
The court selects a bellwether case from a pool of cases that each side proposes. If these bellwether trials result in verdicts for the plaintiffs, they may set the stage for potential settlement discussions, but there is no guarantee this will occur.
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