Four plaintiffs law firms, including Peter Angelos’ office in Baltimore, have asked the Avandia MDL judge to remand the 145 Avandia cases back to their home jurisdictions to push forward with case specific discovery and trial. These Avandia lawsuits would return to federal court, mostly in the remaining plaintiffs’ home jurisdictions: Nevada, Georgia, Washington, Minnesota, South Dakota, Missouri, Maryland, Mississippi, Texas, Washington D.C., Florida, and California.
Actually, the MDL judge can’t remand the cases on her own. But she can suggest to the MDL panel that the cases be remanded, a suggestion that almost always carries the day with the MDL panel.
In every mass tort case that successfully settles, there are two types of groups that tend to hold out last on settlement. The first is the best cases. These are typically the best cases on causation and damages that opt out of the settlement because the value of their potential claim is higher than the value of the settlement groups. Those are the cases that break the curve on average value and the plaintiffs – and their lawyers – hold out for a larger amount.
The second is the true believers. They may have small or great weaknesses in their case, but they truly believe the company did something wrong, that they are entitled to a lot of money, and are not going to take the compromise of a mass tort MDL settlement.
The MDL judge has already moved towards remand. Judge Cynthia M. Rufe dissolved the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) after 5 years, telling individual plaintiffs’ lawyers with remaining cases that the MDL Mommy was no longer available to hold their hands and they were on their own, a daunting task for some lawyers used to riding the MDL coattails.
But the judge also ordered five bellwether cases to be tried in the MDL court. A bellwether case is basically a test case – usually while the MDL is still fully assembled – to give the litigants some idea of how these cases will play out. But bellwether cases are often precursors for settlement talks. These remaining cases will be harder to settle as the result of a bellwether trial because the plaintiffs’ are too locked in the idea that their case is special.
Anyway, we will see how this all plays out. There are so few cases left, and interest in Avandia among plaintiffs’ lawyers dwindled down to mostly “When am I going to get my settlement check?” So I doubt anyone is actually reading this post. Still, I find this interesting