The answer is pretty simple: a mass tort case involves a large group of people who were hurt by a singular event. The most famous one in West Virginia was probably the Upper Big Branch disaster, which took the lives of twenty-nine people as a result of one explosion. Another example would be the asbestos that has poisoned thousands of West Virginia workers since the 1940s. Mass tort cases in West Virginia are handled by mass litigation panels that help experienced lawyers move the cases through the system with great efficiency.
If you have the disease mesothelioma, which was caused by the asbestos used to insulate factories in the forties, fifties, sixties and early seventies, your case will be handled as a mass tort case in West Virginia. It will be streamlined by the mass litigation panel. There’s one judge on this panel who tries mesothelioma cases four times a year, which is usually about fifteen to twenty cases each time. As a result of that, we know what discovery needs to happen and what documents we need to prepare in order to get your case to trial.
The Segal Law Firm knows what information is required by the judge’s order. Using our streamlined system, the judge can usually get a mesothelioma case to trial in a year or two years, which is a true blessing for those suffering from mesothelioma.
In the case of other mass torts, such as Upper Big Branch, the Chief Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court can refer the case to the mass litigation panel. The mass litigation panel is a group of judges who are normal judges, but they have taken on the extra responsibility to be a mass litigation judge. They receive special training and sit on those cases as a group so one poor judge isn’t saddled with all the work. One group of the judges will work on trying to see if the cases can be settled, while the other group of judges works on getting the case ready for trial with the lawyers. They work in tandem to be sure that the case goes through the court system as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Although it’s still your individual case, if you were one of the people affected by a mass tort, like a big airplane crash, mass litigation is usually the vehicle to get your case processed in West Virginia. And because I have served in front of all of the mass litigation panel judges at one time or another, I encourage people who have been involved in a mass tort to feel free to give me a call, and let’s talk about the best way to handle it for you and your family. We’re available toll free at 855-344-9100.