By Amaris Elliott-Engel
Of the Legal Staff
I interviewed Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Sandra Mazer Moss, the co-supervising judge of the court’s program for mass torts, for a series on the changing nature of products liability law. The latest installment of the series can be found here.
And here are the highlights of the interview:
Moss said the proof that the court’s settlement/mediation program is working well is that “we have yet to try a pharma case in 2012 and it’s already August.” Everything has settled after the motions practice, the judge said.
Pharmaceutical cases settle on the basis of plaintiffs counsel’s inventory of cases, while asbestos cases settle, if they settle, when they are listed for trial, she said.
In asbestos cases, there is usually a trial every month, Moss said. “Instead of a full complement of cases, you’ll get one left that maybe will go to trial,” Moss said.
I asked Moss what is the court’s role in resolving mass torts case. Moss said it is “to encourage mediation and to offer to be available for settlement.”
Cases are mediated in whole packages of cases, Moss said. She noted that a Paxil case, which was set to be tried next month, was settled as part of a package.
“I think it makes it more palatable to both sides,” Moss said. v In mass torts, the considerations of settlement include if the cases involve signature injuries and how many cases are in a plaintiffs counsel’s inventory of those injuries, as well as if the defendants have conceded certain injuries were caused by their products and if on some injuries the defendants “are absolutely adamant that they are not” caused by their products, Moss said.
Finally, Moss said she has not really seen an ethical impact from plaintiffs counsel representing many, many claimants. Moss said she trusts lawyers will work ethically and she has never had a plaintiff contact the court to complain.