May 21, 2012 Articles

The Path to Aggregate Settlements

By Chad R. Hutchinson and Donna Brown Jacobs

Aggregate settlements have increased in popularity over the past decade, driven in part by mass-tort litigation and the liberal joinder rules in some states. The proliferation of attorney advertising has meant that plaintiffs’ counsel often represents hundreds or even thousands of people asserting the same type of claim against a common defendant. These claims do not qualify for class-action treatment, but counsel nevertheless seeks to leverage the sheer number of plaintiffs into a settlement. The defendant sees an opportunity to dispose of most or all claims in a single transaction. The situation is often further complicated when these counsel associate with other attorneys, often in other parts of the country, and then find themselves representing claimants they have never met and perhaps will never meet.

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