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In Positive Trend for Defendants in Product Liability, Nick Rees of PublicNuisanceWire.com writes:
Defendants in product liability cases have seen laws and statutes change and morph as the Supreme Court and other venues have interpreted laws and created precedents. Jim Beck, of counsel at Dechert LLP in the mass torts and product liability group in Philadelphia, has seen those changes firsthand for the last 25 years and witnessed how each change has affected defendants’ rights at trial. Co-author of the Drug and Device Law blog, Beck spoke to Public Nuisance Wire about how those changes came about, what impact they’ve had on defendants, and how he’d like to see the laws continue to evolve.
PNW: How have class actions changed in the last twenty-five years?
BECK: Back when I first got into a position where I could have influence on litigation – this is compared to around 1987 when I’d been practicing for five years – the concept of personal injury class action was a real threat. There were cases that were allowing this and plaintiffs were arguing it and that was the trend.
Class action and personal injury litigation now, in federal court, is virtually extinct. There’s a little more play in state courts versus federal but, even then, there’s a lot less and they aren’t very large anymore.
Two Supreme Court decisions, Amchem Products, Inc. v. Windsor and Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp., cut back on the lowers courts’ ability to certify class actions in product liability. Since those decisions, there might be one contested personal injury class action that was upheld on appeal in the federal court system in the last ten years.
Part 2 includes How has the use of expert witnesses evolved?