Mass tort litigation is a different animal than single-plaintiff lawsuits. For one, the adversary is often a huge corporation with high-caliber defense attorneys, insurers, and other resources working to minimize a payout or avoid one altogether. Second, this type of litigation requires a great deal more organization. I’m not just talking about organizing all the plaintiffs – which can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of people all dealing with similar harm – in the case; I’m also talking about organization at settlement time.
Why should mass tort attorneys even care about settlement planning in the first place?
At the end of litigation, some attorneys mail checks without considering whether any of the plaintiffs have needs-based government benefits, which they’ll likely lose after settlement. Take the Roundup weedkiller claims, for instance. Without the right strategy in place, thousands of plaintiffs may lose their Medicaid benefits that have been covering costly chemotherapy treatments. They could then quickly go bankrupt from medical debt. On top of that, many plaintiffs need a helping hand to ensure that their settlement money lasts for the long term. Settlement planning literally costs the attorney nothing, so it’s a no-brainer to refer clients to an expert to help with the next stage of their journeys.
So, how can a handful of trial lawyers manage settlement for a nationwide group of plaintiffs, each with different payouts, long-term needs, and future financial goals?
It’s no secret that my settlement planning company is considered “boutique” sized compared to others. But the size of our team has never stood in our way from taking on settlement planning in a mass tort with hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs – and without missing a beat in providing individualized care to each plaintiff. Here’s how we do it.
Step 1: Open multiple lines of communication.
People have different communication preferences, so we offer many. Our mass tort clients get access to a custom-tailored resource website. If they want to research before contacting us, they can watch videos and read about their options there. We also provide a phone number and email option to reach 24/7 dedicated consultants when they’re ready to speak with someone.
Step 2: Have the right shoe for every foot.
The consultants direct each plaintiff to the right expert. We’ve built a team of people who specialize in a variety of settlement planning options. That way, no matter the unique needs and goals of the individual plaintiff, we’ve got a person to help.
Step 3: Take a holistic approach to the individual’s settlement planning needs.
Even though we have specialists in all areas of settlement planning, we still take an all-hands-on-deck approach whenever needed. By bringing together several minds on each case, we can ensure we’re finding the right path in the individual’s journey after litigation.
I should mention that this calculated approach doesn’t necessarily take a ton of time. Our team can start the planning process quickly (often the same day) and can wind down operations just as quickly. That way, clients’ questions don’t remain lingering troubles for paralegals and staff. Instead, plaintiffs receive prompt, precise, and tailored responses. Besides this being the standard of care they deserve, happier clients = better law firm reviews = more future business and a great reputation.
The recipe for mass tort settlement planning is iron-clad organization, accessible communication, and expertise. Multiple-plaintiff litigation most often arises from unexpected and devastating harm; we’re proud to be the next step as plaintiffs plan for the road ahead.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).