Why Mass Action is Best for the DePuy Hip Implant Lawsuit
Many different law firms are suing DePuy Orthopaedics over the faulty ASR XL Acetabular System. In a personal, vulnerable situation like this hip implant case, it can be difficult to assess the situation and make the right legal decision for you. In this article, we'd like to break down the difference between mass action and solo cases so you can make a well-informed choice for yourself.
"One Riot, One Ranger"
When a single person with a single lawyer brings a case against one organization, our firm's senior partner Jim Moriarty likes to call it a "one riot, one ranger" case: one person was harmed, and one person needs to set it right.
Let's take a hypothetical. A company (we'll call it Hypothetical Co.) has a trucking business. One of its drivers runs into a pedestrian and causes serious injury. The driver was clearly negligent and the pedestrian was clearly hurt. Everyone agrees that the damages amount to $100,000. If the lawyer presents a good case, it's likely that the case will be settled for that number, and Hypothetical Co. won't bother spending excessively on its own legal defense.
Hypothetical Co. could, of course, spend $100,000 dollars to avoid paying $100,000 dollars to the plaintiff, but this would take up time, company resources, and would likely land them some bad press. If the money will be spent anyway, it's in Hypothetical Co.'s best interest to simply pay the plaintiff with it instead of using up those resources.
"One riot, one ranger" is a very effective way to settle a case with a single client who has a single complaint, because it simply isn't worth the legal fees to Hypothetical Co. to defend the case when it can be settled for its fair value. They would rather settle the case, reluctantly compensate the plaintiff for his injury, and move on.
So if "one riot, one ranger" cases are effective, why isn't that the best way to bring a case against DePuy for their faulty hip implant?
If a single person had received a single faulty hip from DePuy, it would be a great way to bring the case. Unfortunately, we're dealing with 93,000 people who received recalled hip implants, many of whom will now have medical consequences.
And in that situation, the math starts to work against the plaintiffs.
Bluffing Without a Hand
Going back to Hypothetical Co. for a moment, let's say that instead of the truck running into a single pedestrian, the truck ran into a plane full of people. 100 people are seriously injured. Each of those 100 people runs out and gets a lawyer. The cost of the injuries is far beyond our original case scenario - Let's assume they are all injured in the same way, and all their claims are worth $100,000. When added all together, the grand total of those 100 people's damages is in the millions.
Instead of paying a one-time settlement of $100,000, Hypothetical Co. is now looking at paying $10,000,000, because there are so many people to settle with.
Suddenly, shelling out even millions in lawyer's fees to defend against the lawsuits is a much better deal for Hypothetical Co. - especially since every case that is settled in favor of the plaintiff sets a precedent for all the rest of the cases. When the first person who files suit only their damages, (assumed to be $100,000) Hypothetical Co. will still spend millions to win the case - to avoid having to pay the same damage amount to remaining plaintiffs who have the same individual damages.
To recap: Hypothetical Co. is motivated to spend a great deal of money on the individual cases, even more than the single case is, so they can avoid shelling out the same amount of damages to every other plaintiff. The lawyer, however, can only afford to spend as much as the case is worth to the individual plaintiff, because he has no stake in the other cases brought by other plaintiffs' lawyers.
In a case where there are many people who have been harmed, it's a case of "divide and conquer." The more lawyers who are depending only on their own funds to bring a case against Hypothetical Co. , the more power and leverage Hypothetical Co. has. The company knows the lawyer can only afford to put in a limited amount of money, so when the bargaining starts, the lawyer is bluffing with a bad hand. Hypothetical Co. knows it can outbid the lawyer, and the lawyer knows Hypothetical Co. can outbid him. Not only is the lawyer bluffing without a hand - his opponent can actually see his cards.
Enter the mass action lawsuit.
The Pocket Ace: Mass Action Lawsuit
Every individual client needs personal attention in a case like this. Everyone has different injuries, different changes to their lifestyle that need to be recompensed, and different problems that need to be addressed.
However, there is a great deal of overlap when it comes to researching the case and finding common ground on damages. All of the plaintiffs in the Hypothetical Co. case were struck by the same vehicle, for example. If 100 different lawyers are working each of the plaintiff's individual cases, each of those lawyers has to do their own research on the driver, the vehicle, and the circumstances that led to the accident.
If one lawyer brings a lawsuit on behalf of all of those 100 plaintiffs, he only has to do that research once. That lowers his costs, which means he can start to compete with Hypothetical Co. in the game of who has the most money to bring to the case.
Let's show you how that works in real numbers. To keep the math simple in our hypothetical, we'll use an absurdly low settlement of $100 for each case. Let's say the cost to bring an individual case - the lawyer's up-front investment - is $20.
That means for a single plaintiff, the settlement is $100, and it costs $20 to bring the case.
For 10 plaintiffs, the settlement is $1,000, but it now only costs $40 to bring the case.
For 100 plaintiffs, the settlement is $10,000, but the total costs to the lawyer are only $100.
The higher the number of plaintiffs , the more money the lawyer can afford to invest in the case overall. With a single case, the lawyer's funds are limited by how much money he stands to earn if he wins the case. With hundreds of cases, the lawyer is in a position to put in a lot more effort and a lot more skill. So, as quality increases as the number of cases increase, the cost per client actually decreases.
The more clients a law firm or a collaborative group of law firms has, the better their position when it comes to bargaining with DePuy about how much money their clients should ultimately get. When the potential recovery is quite high, it's still possible for lawyers to stay in the game even though the company is willing to put in a large amount of money defending the case.
For the DePuy hip recall case, the numbers will be very different - not only because our theoretical scenario used ridiculously low numbers, but also because the damages we've seen have been widely varied. Every plaintiff will be looking at a settlement that matches the amount of damages they've incurred and the personal problems they've suffered.
Though these cases are very different, they share a single common denominator: it will be easier to get everyone recompensed properly if everyone bands together in a single mass action suit. The more clients a lawyer or a legal partnership has, the better its position when it comes to bargaining with DePuy about how much money their clients should receive.
New Game: DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System
There are a great many lawyers out there billing themselves as a "hip recall lawyer" or a "faulty hip lawyer." We aren't those things. At Moriarty Leyendecker, we have a history of bringing mass action lawsuits against major corporations and winning.
Usually, when a normal, everyday citizen brings a case against a huge corporation with a lot of money to spend on a lawsuit, he's going to lose. We're the ones who tip the scales. We gather together the people who have been harmed and we draw power from those numbers. Our firm's history, bringing and winning lawsuits against Shell Chemical, Prudential Bache, Tenet Healthcare, and National Medical Enterprises, shows that this is the most effective way to win cases when thousands were injured.
No company should get away with causing you serious harm simply because they have deeper pockets. If you have questions about your legal rights in the case against DePuy Orthopedics, we're here to answer them. More than anything, we want to be sure the thousands of people who were harmed by the ASR XL Acetabular System have the legal and medical information they need to move forward.
Give us a call at 800-677-7095, or fill out our online form. We're here to help.