Litigators often use mediation to facilitate settlements. However, mediation must be strategically planned and scheduled to be effective. This is especially important in the context of asbestos litigation for various reasons.
Asbestos litigation is unique because defendants are involved in hundreds or thousands of cases yearly. Unlike modern mass tort or class action cases, each asbestos case is litigated separately. This means that a defendant may face lawsuits in dozens of courts and jurisdictions simultaneously, with cases at varying stages of the litigation. Therefore, defendants prioritize resolving cases that are closer to trial.
It’s always helpful to have dispositive and Daubert motions ruled on and denied before a mediation. However, in asbestos cases, unless the trial is close, defendants may not review the case seriously because they have other cases that are closer to trial and require their attention. Therefore, the timing of mediation is critical.
In a recent mesothelioma case handled by Beasley Allen, the court expressed a preference for early mediation. However, our lawyers knew that any settlement offers made then would likely be meager. This was the first asbestos case the court had handled. Despite the court’s preference for early resolution, Beasley Allen’s lawyers successfully argued that it was unlikely. The mediation was ultimately scheduled closer to the trial date, with the defendants’ decision-makers in attendance and fully informed about the case. While not every defendant settled at that mediation, many high-value settlements were reached.
Mediation conducted closer to the trial date is more effective in securing the defendants’ attention. The defendants and their national coordinating counsel would better understand the case and have more authority to offer higher settlement values. Plus, decision-makers involved in the case would be present during the mediation rather than just the defendants’ local counsel.
Beasley Allen’s attorneys were able to secure favorable settlements for their client due to the timing of the mediation process. This saved the client a significant amount of time and resources. Having such insight is critical in every case to achieve the best possible outcome, and Beasley Allen possesses this valuable skill.