Mass Torts and Toxic Tort Litigation

What makes up a “Mass Tort”?  These are cases that normally involve hundreds to thousands of plaintiffs and often scores of defendants where the claim involves a common product or common exposure but normally not occurring at the same time or place but over many years.  These cases, though involving large numbers of people and organizations, are not class actions as the individual cases vary factually one from another.

What is a “Toxic Tort”? These are cases that are comprised of alleged harms to persons, property, or to the environment due to the toxicity of a product, a substance, or a process. Often times in these cases, the alleged toxic harm is latent for a period of time and is not immediately discernable.  In the cases dealing with personal injuries and diseases, the harm may not be known or diagnosable for many years.  Many of these cases, particularly related to personal injury,  involve a single plaintiff who develops a particular disease and brings suit against many defendants, alleging that the plaintiff was exposed to a particular toxin or chemical while working on the various defendants’ facilities or premises and all of the defendants should share some liability.  Other cases may involve one or more plaintiffs bringing a suit against a single defendant, arising out of alleged exposure to chemicals or toxins that are emitted or released from the defendant’s facilities and premises.  The damages or injuries complained of in toxic tort cases range from diseases and personal injury to property damage to temporary and permanent injunctions.  Toxic tort cases often involve a “battle” of expert witnesses engaged in the fields of industrial hygiene, epidemiology, toxicology, and medicine.

Should you be faced with a mass tort or toxic tort matter, there is no need for you and your counsel to reinvent the wheel.  We have been there, know how, and have the record to show for it.  Cotten Schmidt & Abbott, L.L.P., has been actively engaged in representing clients in mass tort and toxic tort litigation since the firm’s creation.   Among our successes we count:

  • In handling one of our mass agricultural products liability cases, the firm advanced a pre-trial challenge to the plaintiffs’ experts asserting the lack of scientific basis for his opinions.  It was the first motion of its kind in Texas state courts.  The motion was granted devastating  the plaintiffs’ case.  It ultimately resulted in the landmark Texas decision on the admissibility of expert witnesses (E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., Inc. v. Robinson, 923 S.W.2d 549 64 USLW 2047, Prod.Liab.Rep (CCH) P 14,294, 38 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 852 (Rex., Jun 15, 1995) (NO.94 0843).
  • In another mass agricultural products case, following a 3 month trial our investigation revealed jury tampering by our opposition which led to the overturning of an adverse verdict.
  • A mass products liability set of cases involving Temporomandibular Joint (“TMJ”) Implant Litigation, with the firm serving as regional counsel and trial counsel (Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas).
  • Defending state-wide litigation in numerous states involving asbestos claims, in which the firm has successfully obtained defense jury verdicts in death cases. In one of the defense jury verdicts we obtained, our opposition asked the jury for $1 Billion Dollars.
  • Defending silica exposure claims in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, in which the firm succeeded in obtaining dismissals of nearly the entire docket of claims without paying a dime, numbing over 20,000 plaintiffs, asserted against one of the firm’s clients.
  • Defending a large chemical facility against over 2,300 plaintiffs alleging that the company caused dioxins, furans, PCB’s, and heavy metals to be emitted from its premise and those emissions caused community contamination, including personal injuries, property damage and seafood contamination in the nearby water body. After the first trial which resulted in an adverse verdict, we appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, which overturned the adverse verdict.  That case was re-tried and a defense verdict was obtained.  The second and last case that went to trial also resulted in a defense verdict.
  • Defending a chemical manufacturer sued in a global warming case, which alleges that our client, among 100’s of other companies, contributed to global warming, which allegedly resulted in the increased intensity of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated homes and businesses on the Gulf Coast.
  • Drafting and shepherding legislation through the Texas Legislature which enhanced the ability of Texas courts to efficiently handle mass litigation.
  • Defending benzene claims in various states, with the alleged exposures being either to our client’s products or at our client’s facilities
  • Defending paint, chemical, and fume exposure claims, which allegedly resulted in immediate health effects ranging from rashes and minor skin irritation to death.

Whether as lead counsel, co-counsel or local counsel, during pre-trial, at trial or on appeal, or drafting legislation directed toward the efficient and effective handling of mass tort claims, Cotten Schmidt & Abbott, L.L.P., has demonstrated its ability to successfully represent clients in mass tort and toxic tort litigation.  Our clients trust us because we don’t just “talk the talk,” but rather “walk the walk.”

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