Florida U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers announced that the first CAEV2 (Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2) bellwether trial would begin on April 5, 2021.
About a year ago, fewer than 700 people had filed lawsuits complaining of defective 3M earplugs. Since then, largely because the company settled a False Claims Act dispute with the U.S. government, that number has exploded to over 185,000. As the number of claims expanded, the federal courts consolidated them into a single action. A bellwether trial helps both sides determine which way the legal winds are blowing. Victims scored an early win in the process when Judge Rodgers ruled that 3M could not use the “silver bullet” military contractor defense in these cases.
A growing number of 3M earplug claims are staying in state court. These victims, who are usually noncombatants, like National Guardsmen, enjoy something of a home field advantage.
Jurisdiction and Venue in Civil Cases
Most people have no idea what these legal concepts mean. But unless a Lexington personal injury attorney makes the right choices at this stage, victims could end up losing their right to obtain compensation.
Jurisdiction refers to the legal authority to consider a dispute. State courts have the authority to hear disputes between people who live in the same state. If the litigants reside in different states, federal courts usually have jurisdiction. Most cruise ship injury matters are federal court matters. The same is true for large transportation accidents, like airplane or tour bus crashes.
Most attorneys have little control over jurisdiction. Venue is a different matter. Venue typically refers to geography. In a personal injury suit, venue is usually proper where:
- The injury occurred, or
- The victim/plaintiff resides.
An attorney can usually choose the venue, unless these two locations are in the same county. Making the right choice significantly affects the amount of the personal injury settlement.
Since the victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof, it’s sometimes best to bring an action in the county where the accident occurred. The physical evidence, including evidence at the scene and medical bills, is there, and witnesses usually reside there as well.
However, it’s much more convenient to bring actions where the plaintiffs reside. That’s especially true in personal injury cases. Getting from Point A to Point B is often difficult for injury victims. Additionally, this venue choice reinforces the aforementioned home field advantage.
So, either way, there are pros and cons. An attorney must quickly sort out these pros and cons, because the statute of limitations clock is ticking.
Your Claim for Damages
Preliminary questions like venue and jurisdictions are just the beginning of your claim for damages, at least in most cases.
If liability is crystal clear, a simple demand letter might settle the claim before court documents are filed. But there is almost always at least some question as to fault, liability, or the extent of damages.
So, to put pressure on the insurance company and preserve the victim’s legal rights, attorneys must file court documents. Generally, insurance company lawyers immediately file procedural motions, asking the judge to throw the case out of court. But as long as attorneys have done their homework and gathered evidence, these motions usually fail.
The discovery phase usually comes next. Kentucky law requires both parties to put all their cards on the table. Since both sides have a better grasp of the strengths of their claims and defenses, it is easier to settle the case.
Discovery methods in personal injury cases usually include medical examinations, oral depositions, and document productions.
If the case remains unresolved at this point, most Fayette County judges refer the matter to mediation. A third-party mediator, who is usually an unaffiliated Lexington personal injury attorney, meets with both sides and tries to facilitate a settlement.
If both sides negotiate in good faith, mediation is usually successful. “Good faith,” in this context, usually means that litigants are willing to make compromises to reach a resolution.
What’s At Stake: Compensation Available
The process often takes a long time because insurance company lawyers do whatever it takes to drag things out. The longer they delay, the longer the settlement money remains in the insurance company’s possession, and the more interest income it makes. Also, insurance companies typically care nothing about victims. They only care about protecting corporate profits.
As for compensation, no one can turn back the clock and reverse the effects of an injury. Financial compensation is the next best thing. To fully restore victim/plaintiffs, that means compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Particularly in defective product claims, like 3M earplugs, additional punitive damages are usually available as well. These damages punish companies for their wrongful conduct and deter future misconduct.
Injury victims are often entitled to significant compensation, but the path to fair compensation is not always straight and narrow. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.